So I was pleasantly surprised yesterday when I found a message from my former sister-in-law. We grew up close neighbors - she on her Dad's dairy and beef cattle farm and me right next door on my Dad's 20 acres that had once been part of the same farm. She had been looking through some of her mother's things and had run across an old card that reminded her of our childhood. She shared those memories with me.
I answered her message by telling her some of the memories I had of that time. Like when her older sister and I decided to try smoking corn silk. I was about 13 years old then, and all we succeeded in doing was singeing our eyebrows nearly off. There were memories of a playhouse where she and my sister played with their baby dolls and a tire swing behind it that was used by all the kids.
I told her about the time my Dad came into our house, chuckling. He said he had just seen the oldest boy in the family next door, running as fast as his 16 year old legs would carry him, across the barnyard, with his Dad hot on his heels. Dad said he didn't know what the boy had done, but he kind of hoped he didn't get caught. That Dad doing the chasing would later be the best Father-in-law anyone could hope for. The boy doing the running grew up to be my husband and the father of my four children.
After that little meander down Memory Lane, I got to thinking about other things from that time period of the late 1950's and early 1960's. I wonder if anyone remembers the telephone party line. In rural America it was common for several families to share a telephone line. I think there were nine families on ours. There were no long chats with friends. You said what you had to say and then hung up, because someone else might be waiting to use the phone line. That sort of put a crimp in the teenage social life. And you didn't dare plan any shenanigans with friends over the phone, for there was always the one busybody on the line who loved to tell your mother when you were up to no good. Don't ask how I know this. :)
I was thinking about TV programs back then. Most farmers in my neighborhood didn't have a TV. They were too busy to watch TV and they were content to get the weather forecasts and farm reports from the radio. I was 15 years old when my family first owned a TV. Kids living in town had more choices of programming, but the rural areas were lucky if two or three channels came in clear using the rooftop antenna. The one kids program I remember most was "Axel and His Dog." Axel was a goofball with sort of a Scandinavian accent who lived in a treehouse. Axel is sort of hard to explain to those who never saw this local program, so here is a clip.
My Dad loved the ending of each show - the "Birdie with a yellow bill" part, because sometimes in the last line of that little poem, Axel would sneak in something that the kids might not understand, but the grownups would surely get the double meaning.
Dad would chuckle. Mother, on the other hand, was not amused.