How simple life used to be

Published 11:00 pm Friday, August 17, 2012

Remember how simple life used to be?

A friend gave me an artsy-craftsy plaque with those words accompanying a wood carving of a little pig-tailed girl hanging by her feet from a tree limb.

And, oh yes, I do remember how simple the world seemed when hanging upside down from a limb on my grandmother’s crepe myrtle tree.

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Young’uns were left to their imaginations for the entire summer. And what one of us couldn’t think up to do, another could.

It didn’t take much to keep us entertained and out of trouble or deep into it.

Mama kept a switch on top of the refrigerator as a constant reminder that she had it and could and would use it. And, many days I did the dance to the swishing of the switch. But, when it rained, I was washed as white as snow – as the preacher said.

There was just something about a rainy day that had the bad seep right out of me – out of all of us.

There was nothing that I liked to do better on a rainy early summer day get on the bed and read funny books.

I’d get out my pasteboard box of funny books and go through them one by one, deciding which ones I wanted to keep and which ones I was willing to swap.

All of the young’uns in the neighborhood read funny books. We bought them at the drug store where they were displayed on revolving racks – kind of like those that are used now for card displays.

I could spend all afternoon picking out the one I wanted to buy – the one, because funny books cost a dime and that was an awful lot of money. But, at the end of the month, if all the funny books hadn’t sold, the drug store owner would take the covers off them to send back to the company. Then he would give the stripped funny books away.

How he decided who got them, we didn’t know. But we always behaved in the drug store, hoping he would notice and we would be one of the lucky ones.

Funny books were “funny” books. No guts and gore back then. My favorites were Uncle Scrooge, Daffy Duck, Pluto and Mr. Magoo. But my all-time favorite was The Little People. They sailed in walnut shells and slept in matchboxes and drank out of thimbles. I wanted to be one of them in a world where people were giants, lizards were monsters and mud puddles were oceans.

When I had the big measles, Daddy bought me some Bugs Bunny funny books. I had high fevers and was so sick that I wanted to stop breathing but Mama said that I couldn’t. And that stupid wabbit on my bed was the cause of it all. I hated Bugs Bunny and I would never take him in a swap.

Swapping funny books was a rainy day tradition for all the young’uns in the neighborhood. And, if I could have a bucket of wild plums to eat while I read I would be in hog heaven.

The wild plum trees were across the pasture and down the hill from our house. They were all along the fence line so we could stand on the fence and reach the juicy ones hanging on the top branches. Every now and then we could hear a rattlesnake in full sing in the nearby blackberry bushes but that was not enough to send us scampering.

I liked the red, ripe plums but the sorta green ones were my favorites.

When I got home with my bucket filled to the top, I would turn on the oscillating fan and climb up on my bed next to the open window. I’d put my stack of funny books and my bucket of plums on the bed table and, if there was a happier or more contented young’un in the world, I just don’t know how they could have stood it.