BORED? Are you kidding me? Listen, we didn’t have TV, Rubix Cubes, mini-cams, ipads, laptops or cyberspace. We’d never heard of Hollywood Squares, Let’s Make a Deal or Dancing with the Stars. We had to cook with a slow baking oven. You had to get in line and wait your turn at Gene’s Barber Shop. Time didn’t move at all in December and January.
But I don’t ever remember one time, ever, in my whole life, being bored!
God gave us that remarkable mind so we could enjoy life even on slow days. We invented ways to keep ourselves occupied. We could spend half an afternoon looking for four leaf clovers. And laying on our backs and picking out pirate ships, Indian faces and jumbo jets in the quick moving clouds would make any day roll along at a reasonable pace. Mundane some would say? Obviously, they never “out four leaf clovered” the entire neighborhood or found a Tyrannosaurs Rex in a puffy cumulus when the rest of the group could only “see” a rag doll face or an ordinary alarm clock.
Those people who think the 1950’s were “simple times” most likely didn’t grow up back then! We’d throw rocks at a can on the top of a fence post. We’d climb the tallest tree we could find and look for the big white silos out at Keco Mills. We’d fish for hours down at Archie Moore’s pond. When we realized the fish weren’t hungry, we’d run those Black Angus cows into the water, grab a tail and see if they would “ski” us to the other side!
We’d flatten out cardboard boxes and slide down the steepest hill we could find. We had crabapple wars and flag pole climbing contests. Me, Ricky Hale and Bobby Brewer had a pillow fight in our back bed room that lasted for three days. We’d hang around Bill Argo’s Gulf Station and listen to the grownups “carry on” about hog prices, the weather and the merits of a John Deere over an International Harvester.
The lone phone hanging in the hall was for emergencies only. The World Wide Web consisted of all those people who were on your party line. YouTube was a rubber inflated tire insert that belonged to a friend. There was no such thing as “uploading”, “downloading” or “sideloading”. But brother, you stand around for a few minutes like you didn’t have nothing to do and Daddy would put you to work “un-loading”!
All-day baseball games, mumbley-peg and “spitting at the crack” were our national pastimes. Dark didn’t slow us down. The fire flies were out. The frogs couldn’t see you slipping up on them. And a “hide and go seek” game could break out faster than you could “kick the can”.
Even as we moved into the teenage years and learned that Niagara was more than just a starch, Hollywood was a real place and the world extended beyond our city limits, we didn’t sit down and wring our hands at what we might be missing. We dove into the surroundings at our disposal with all the gusto we could muster. For some, it was high school football and basketball. The FFA Club had those cool blue jackets and they never stopped searching for a better way to grow soy beans. Our school band might not have actually stopped traffic by its size, but nobody out marched them, or played with more pride.
And listen, here’s the kicker, you know how we had been making fun of Susie, Pam and LaRenda for years? Remember how Vicki and Emily used to chase us down and thump us on the head and shoulders! Well, a strange metamorphous was taking place. I got to calling Jane Hill.…..and talking algebra! When Charlotte Melton rode that big horse by the house, I’d climb aboard like I was born to the saddle. I accidently wound up sitting by Ruth Ann Wiley in church week after week.
We turned sixteen and they let us drive! Holy Cow! You talk about a whole ’nother avenue! The ball games weren’t confined to the field next door. No more walking to town! We could comb our hair back and cruise the Dairy Bar in style! We discovered good looking girls in Huntingdon, Camden and Trenton.
If a teenager calls himself bored in this country today, he either ain’t too bright, or he doesn’t have his looking glasses on.
Life holds so much for them. The knowledge, information and eye-opening opportunities are endless. And the boundless energy of youth should be poised and ready to dance with a few stars. America, with all its faults, is still an extraordinary special place for growing, learning and living. I would trade places with any of them in a heartbeat. Just think of the possibilities…….
The world, literally, is at their fingertips. There is no reason for them to be angry, upset, insolent, mean, unlearned, racist, bewildered or just plain loco. And yet, we read and hear of some horrific decisions a few of our youth are making today. My heart bleeds for them. Surely we haven’t given them too much too fast. Surely we haven’t left them too often to their own devices. Please tell me we haven’t ignored or misinterpreted their cries.
And surely we haven’t stood by while some of our young people “virtual realitized” themselves right out of reality.