Saturday, February 26, 2011

... three squares connected, a double square, two more squares ...

Although I have vivid memories of this house and this farm, these trees and this road, I have no memories of  this DIRT road.  It was paved before my memories of it began.  The house was always close to the road, a huge benefit when it was raining or super cold and we had to wait for the bus.  We would stand watch and between the time we saw the yellow bus and the time it stopped in front of our house, we had just enough time to dash out, cross the road, and be standing in place when Mrs. Lewis drew the bus to a halt.  Sweet Mrs. Lewis, on rare occasions, would be there before we were out the door and we'd hear the bus horn; a dreaded sound!  We NEVER wanted to hear that horn.  Once I was on the bus, breathing a sigh of relief, when I noticed that I still had on my warm pink fuzzy slippers.  

My first memories of the road was of it as a 'hard road' with black tar and small rocks. We knew two types of roads: dirt roads and hard roads.  Because Granddaddy and Grandmother were about the first people to live on the road, it was unofficially known as "Lee Road' for many years.  

There were few vehicles on the road in front of our house.  Once we were half-grown, we were often out on the road.  We learned to ride bikes early.  Each of us had our own bike.  I learned to ride a bike when I was 8.  Sometimes I wonder if the road was worn out and had to be repaved from the vehicles or the many hundreds of miles we rode on our bikes, back and forth, back and forth.  It was a game to see how far we could ride without hands.  In time, the dirt drive wore down a bit, causing a 12" drop from the grass to the road, just where the drive and the hard road joined.  We'd ride our bikes as fast as we could across the lawn, flying off the little drop off, landing on the dirt road and zipping onto the hard road. In our minds, that little 12" drop was dangerous, daring, and exciting.  

We would pick up a piece of lime-rock while waiting for the bus, drawing hopscotch on the pavement.  Each of us had another rock, stick, or other item to throw into the hopscotch squares.  As long as I was the youngest, I lost every time.  When Sandra and Stanley came along, I began to win the game.  (We drew hopscotch on the dirt drive more often, playing in the driveway and yard too.)  

This is how the game looked, without the irregularity of squares and circles as they're drawn by children. Oh, the times we'd 'erase' with our feet and hands and redraw a crooked square or circle!
Our hopscotch consisted of three squares connected, a double square, two more squares, another double square, one square, and the final circle. We each had our own turn, one after the other.  We threw our rocks into the first square and had to jump on one foot in every single square, jumped down with both feet in the double squares, back on one foot when we were back to the single squares, back to both feet in the double squares, etc, and was able to land on both feet and walk about in the circle.  We were never allowed to step into the square that held our rocks.  We turned around and hopped back to the beginning, stopping on one foot in the square before the one that held our rocks, bending over (still on one foot), picking up our rocks, and then finish hopping to the beginning.  Each of us knew our own rock.  If we hopped through without making a mistake, we could then throw our rock into the next square and keep hopping.  When we put down both feet when we weren't at the double square or the circle, stepped outside the lines, skipped a square, our rock landed outside the right square, or stepped in the square with our rock meant that it was the next person's turn.  We all continued playing till one of us had our rock in the big circle. That person was the winner.  At times we'd keep playing, moving our rocks back to the beginning, square by square. The first person who had their rock back to the beginning was the winner.

We grew up without a TV, learning to amuse ourselves with the reality of our own lives.  We rode bikes, took walks, played in the drive, along with the many other farm and fun activities limited more by imagination than anything else other than concerned parents.

Waiting for the bus was the perfect time to obtain our substitute 'chewing gum'.  The tar was soft in the middle of the summer, baking in the hot Florida sun.  We'd take a stick and dig out little bits of the soft tar until we had enough to chew. This is one activity I think that Mother had no notion that we kids were doing.

Trees grew in the fence line across the road.  Wild grapevines grew up the trees.  When they were ripe, we'd pick grapes and eat them, sitting on top on the vines, 6' from the ground.  On rare occasions we'd pick what we considered a good amount of grapes and would go inside to make grape juice.  Of course, being kids, what we thought was a good amount was rarely more than a couple of cups, at the most.

We all had our falls from the bikes on the road.  My worst was when Stephen and I were dating (I was 15) and we were riding bikes up a little hill just beyond the house.  The bike I was riding had a banana seat, long and narrow.  We were racing and as I put my weight onto the back of the seat, pushing hard on the pedals, the front of the seat broke loose.  I flipped in the air, landed on my back, continued rolling over and skidded to a stop on my knees.  An x-ray determined that my collar bone wasn't broken, but I thought it hurt enough to be broken.

The road was never busy and dangerous.  We rode and walked against the traffic.  We always had plenty of time to move over when a car or truck came into view.  After I married Stephen and moved out, a middle school was built at the end of the road.  Traffic became heavy at times, making the road no longer the safe road that was a safe playing ground for us kids when we were old enough to understand danger.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Edith, I had a really great great-aunt Edith Smith who lived on a West Virginia farm. So I saw your hopscotch rendition - are you sure about the 2 squares before the end? I think everybody did 10 total landing spots like they show in wikipedia . Anyway I was looking up a 'killer monster moth' that terrified my girlfriend and saw your moth pix and kind of got sidetracked I guess... have a great day!