This week I'm starting a new feature titled Two Cent Tuesdays. It's a section where I ramble on and on--sometimes coherently, sometimes not so much--about a random topic. Come on! It's bound to be interesting...

Last night my husband and I went to bed late, and stayed up later lying in the dark conversing about “the good ol’ days.” We talked about how different it was when we grew up. Even things as seemingly unimportant as people’s yards. As we see it, lawns back then were meant for playing on. Houses were set much closer to property lines, leaving bigger yards with more natural vegetation. Now, for the most part, houses are erected more squarely in the middle of lots. Lawns appear more decorative, and aren’t used as much. There wasn’t a bunch of 
landscaping when we were growing up either. Maybe some bushes here and there, maybe a flower bed… Even there, flower beds have changed. What happened to the good, old-fashioned marigold? Not
that I’m a huge marigold fan or anything, but it seemed like those and petunias were the only things we planted in the seventies!

We also discussed how we both used to wander along the creek when we were young. I remember it as being such a huge adventure! I believed I journeyed for miles and miles, but I’m sure it was only about five or six blocks. He described a cobblestone bridge over his creek; I spoke about these two cement walls lining the creek that we used to dare each other to jump from. I remember it being perilously high as I stood on the edge and looked down, the bank of the creek swimming into and out of focus as my heart pounded in my chest. I’d lick my lips, my palms sweating as I stood transfixed, waiting for the courage to take that leap. (I went back to my old neighborhood years later, and to my shock the drop was hardly anything!) I recall one section of the creek that snaked through one of those humongous cement pipes. We thought that was SO cool! The way the more stagnant water smelt in there, the way our voices echoed off of the walls. The dark, secretive nature of our discovery. Heck, we could hang out in there all afternoon and no one would even know!

That led to chatting about the myriad of trees along our creeks. Remember those brown, spiky balls about the size of golf balls we used to find? (Hey! I just looked those up on the Internet. Those are from the American sweet gum tree. You learn something new every day!) And how about those trees my siblings and I called “cigar trees?” You remember those, don’t you? Well, according to Wikipedia those are called catalpa trees. (“The name derives from the Catawba Native American catawba for these trees (the tribal totem), with the spelling catalpa being due to a transcription error on the part of the describing botanist (Scopoli) making the first formal scientific description of the genus.”) Or maybe you are old enough to recall the things we called, “Stick-to-Ems” or “Badges of Courage.” Our socks would be covered with them when we returned home after hours of surveying the land. I wonder if my kids have ever seen them? We’ve taken them hiking, of course, but usually on trails, not venturing off path, tramping through the woods like we did as kids. What a plethora of tree fruits God gave us--from the hedge apple to the buckeye to the milkweed pod!



Now children tend to spend more time indoors. They have video games, Netflix, and computers. We had wiffle ball, kick the can, and books, (with real pages!) From time to time I find some of these thoughts and images popping up in my writing. Like in ABANDON ALL HOPE when Chase and Hope play hide and seek in a corn maze, rubbing husks in their hands to smell the sticky sweetness, and tripping over dead stalks and tree roots. In an upcoming book, HOMETOWN HEARTACHE, the hero and heroine meet as ten-year-olds and traverse the creek meandering through their adjoining properties. They discover a tree house (what happened to those?) which sounds eerily like one my siblings and I found during our ramblings. Nash even tries to jump the creek on his bike like my brother Pat did. 

What are some of your memories of “the good old days?” Ever go exploring? I’d love to hear your stories!


  1. Hi MJ! Love this post...it certainly brought back memories. Most of my childhood, we lived in a city neighborhood on a dead end that opened up into a park. We did a lot of trekking back and forth between the park and our house, but it wasn't all that far, and it was open space, so not much to explore. When we went to visit my grandma, we did a bit of exploring in the woods behind her house (not much, because Mom and Dad wouldn't let us wander far), but I remember making up adventures about encountering all sorts of evil in the woods and pretending like we heard sounds we didn't, saw things we didn't. Fun stuff! I do recall some of those odd tree thingies. I never knew what they were, but now I do...(I think). Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  2. Alicia, thanks for sharing a bit of yourself with us! I love this! I can just imagine you making up stories as you played. Remembering good times is always enjoyable, whether it be college escapades, teen years with your wacky best friends, or your childhood days like these. And it really doesn't matter if we have a cool setting like a creek, or just a city street. We make do with what we have. I remember many times playing in the park and making up things. They used to have those pieces of equipment that were like swing sets, but instead of swings they had horses. I always loved those! You could be a princess escaping from a dragon or a jockey racing down the last stretch at the Kentucky Derby. So carefree! No need to watch the time or worry about tasks at home--just hours of play! Wish we could go back sometimes!

    I appreciate you stopping in!

  3. Wow what beautiful memories and the pics are great too! I remember the good ole days when neighbors were ... well neighborly. Not so much anymore, sad to say. Great post!

    1. Thanks for stopping in, Pamela! We are very lucky to have four couples on the block that have been here as long as we have. We go out together on rare occasions, have parties, but mostly we like to sit on the end of "Mr. Dave's" driveway in the evenings and have an adult beverage or two. (On a funny note, it is Mr. Dave's driveway, but Miss Dorene's house when we refer to them!) The people next door to us are newer in our neighborhood, but they've been here probably seven years or so, too, and they RARELY talk to anyone, so I do get what you're saying and feel blessed for having our other neighbors. Pictures, other than our bed, were supplied by Wikicommons.

  4. This is my second try to leave a comment. Loved your blog and it made me think of my hubby and me sitting on our porch in our rocking chairs (wine in hand, of course) reminiscing about our pastoral childhoods. My friend Janie and I loved to roam the fields. Once we were chased by a horse. Once saw a snake in the creek (eek!) and we climbed every tree in sight. Thanks for jogging the memory.

  5. Don't you just want to return to those days sometimes? Even something as simple as a paper airplane could keep you entertained because there was no hurry, no pressure, just a day for you to enjoy. Vacations are the closest we get to that now. Thanks for joining us and sharing your thoughts, Susan!

  6. You have some wonderful memories, M.J. Thanks for sharing...love the pictures!

  7. Thank you so much, Rose! Yes, I feel very fortunate to have had many good times with my siblings. We're still a pretty wild bunch when we get together. (Kind of revert back to our level of maturity when growing up together!) Thanks for joining us today!


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