When I was between 9 and 12 years old, we used to clean out my mothers kitchen junk drawers and get all those treasures ready for a neighborhood carnival. Most houses have one junk drawer, where they place all those items they think are valuable, but really should be thrown out. We had two, because my father NEVER threw anything out. If we wanted to really clean house, we had to wait until he was away or sleeping. For some reason, he did not mind us getting into the junk drawers. Amongst the old batteries and spools of thread, old car keys and padlocks with NO keys, swizzle sticks, tacks, rubber bands and strings, were some real gems. We would use these junk drawer treasures in our annual summer backyard carnival. I lived on a fairly short dead end street. There were 10 houses on my street and I knew every one of the families that lived in those houses. Only four of the houses had kids that were close to my age. Extended family members lived close by back then. One of those 10 houses belonged to my mom’s sister, my Aunt Laura and her husband, my Uncle Sidney. Through a short path behind my house, just a two minute walk, you would arrive at my Aunt Olive and Uncle Edmunds house.... which was on the next street over…also my mother’s sister. In the summer, my cousins would come up from Virginia and stay at Aunt Laura’s (their grandmother), and they would come to the carnival, bringing some “good junk” from her place. There was another beaten path, from Aunt Laura’s yard, to another neighborhood gang of kids…the Reynolds kids. I think there were 6 of them….four girls and two boys, and many of them would come by too. Next door to my house, was a family with 5 kids….four boys and a girl. They were always a part of whatever we did. Across the street was one boy our age, and at the top of the road were a brother and sister who came down. God I did everything with these kids, so when it was carnival time on our road…EVERYBODY who could be there WAS!
All of the donated “carnival” items were priced out and put on tables, that my mother let us use, and were set up in my back yard. Some items were used as prizes and some were sold. My mother made fresh lemonade and cookies for us to sell at another table. We created our own game booths, like ring toss, or bean bag toss, a fishing booth, and we also had face painting. We had a board with balloons tacked to it, and you could shoot darts at the balloons for a prize. The darts came from my brothers dart board in the basement of my house. We always had a ping pong table, pool table, and darts in the basement. I learned to be quite a good ping pong player with three brothers! My mother would donate some of her old Avon jewelry she no longer wanted, and whatever else she felt comfortable getting rid of, when my father wasn’t around. For some of these kids, this WAS the place to buy a gift for your parents, for the upcoming Christmas season. It would be purchased and put away until the holidays. We had old marbles, kites, silly putty, key chains, old coins, kitchen gadgets, baseball cards, yo-yos, rubber snakes, and jewelry. We had old jiggers and shot glasses and paddles with balls, super balls and old silver and magic playing cards and more. The carnival would be an all day event. Word would get out to the kids, on the neighboring streets, and they would all come to see what they could win. Looking back now, that was one of the happiest times of my life. We were so free and full of life. How lucky I was, to have those neighborhood kids in my life! Back then, we could come up with a pretty creative plan and make something out of nothing. We took lemons and made lemonade. We had no video games, no cell phones, no instant gratification and we were NOT the “entitled generation” of today. Thank God for that. It was a different time, a more innocent time, and my parents saw to it that we put those creative juices, we were born with, to good use.
By the end of the day, when all the tables and games were packed up and put away, we divvied up our earnings, and headed to the place we always went after carnival…..Andy’s Handy Store! It was about a 1/2 mile walk. After a long day of carnival, we trekked, the lot of us, with our brown skin from a day in the sun, down to Andy’s, to get our rewards. Here is what it looks like today….similar, but not exactly the same.
That little building to the left, was not there. That is an ice cream shop now and there are picnic tables to the left of that. Andy’s was a magical place to go! They had one of those old glass cases, chock full of penny candy! You could get 2 for a penny and sometimes 3 for a penny. The man behind the glass case, would stand there, and very, very patiently wait on each of us, while we slowly requested what we wanted. “Could I have two mint julepsand three Mary Jane’s, a lipstick and a root beer barrel, three atomic fireballs and one red wax lips? Could I have an orange slice and two jaw breakers and five of those black licorice sticks and one paper of candy buttons. Oh no…could I have three of those candy buttons and only one fireball….or wait a minute…..what’s that over there?” He was so patient. One by one, we did that, and it took hours. In between helping us, he would have us wait a minute, while he waited on other customers. Then back we would go, to get bubble gum cigarettes,and wheels of licorice…..assorted colors of Swedish fish, were always in my bag and squirrel nut candies were a must have,along with Rock Candy stix which seemed so different to me. By the time we got home from Andy’s Handy Store, half our candy was already gone, and all the hard work we put into our little carnival, was all worth the effort, because this was our reward. Those little jewels of penny candy were all we wanted and we went to bed with a smile on our face that night. I am still a sugar addict, to this day! I am mostly addicted to fire balls. I ALWAYS have them in my house, my purse, my crochet bag, the pockets of my coats and in my vehicles! One item Andy's sold, that I never hear about today, were cinnamon toothpicks. Does anyone remember those? If I remember correctly, they came in a vile of cinnamon oil and you sucked on the toothpicks? I was their best customer, when it came to those, and fireballs! I think that is why I am still addicted to them today! What was your favorite candy when you were a kid?
A few years ago, I was fond of going to North Conway, New Hampshire, every year, around the holidays, to shop. I actually would go with one of those cousins, that attended the carnival. One of my favorite places to go was a candy store called YUMMIES. My cousin, introduced me to it. Their claim to fame, is that they stock all things that are unusual, fun, nostalgic and just plain crazy. They stock many hard to find, old fashioned items, including some thought to be extinct. It is truly a magical place to go. I am sure there are many other places in the country, that are similar to Yummies. One of my other favorite things to eat are Wasabi nuts, and they have quite an assortment of spicy eats! Here is a link... WASABI I thought I would share that summer memory with you all, and I challenge all of you to write one of your own!
If I ever have grandchildren (hopefully someday….I’m working on it!) I hope to teach them to be creative, and not be hindered by societal standards. I’ve grown away from the “keeping up with the Jones” mindset, and since I am married to a real “free thinker” it HAS to rub off after all these years! Having God or a “higher power” in my life, helps with that. As I start each day in prayer, I am reminded of just who is in charge, and it isn’t me! That allows me the humility, I need, to live a good life. I used to fill it with “stuff”, I thought I needed. I can become addicted to just about anything….that’s my personality. I try to be careful about blogging, because that can be one of them too. My addictions have changed over the years. There was a time when I drank too much. I no longer drink, and as my friend says, “I take life straight up today!” I LOVE that. I was just drowning any problem I had in a drink. I was the ostrich with his head in the sand, only my head was in a drink instead. I found out that there isn’t anything a drink could fix, because the problems were still there, despite my attempt to drown them. It was something much deeper I was looking for and needed….spirituality….and I found it. My other semi-addictions were yard sales, shopping, Ebay, collecting things excessively, overeating, smoking!….you name it and I will become addicted to it! So…I still do many of those things, but I keep them to a minimum (except smoking, unfortunately I still smoke and that is a real hard one for me.) I try to watch for the signs of overdoing, because I know myself. That’s just me. Life is good today, and I try to surround myself with positive influences. I got ticked off the other day at something, or somebody, and I was forming a big resentment, I guess, and I really didn't recognize it. I was judging someone. My husband said to me….”Did you read page such and such today?” No…I didn’t! So, I went and read page such and such in a little spiritual book we read. It said:
Try never to judge. The human mind is so delicate and so complex that only it’s Maker can know it wholly. Each mind is so different, actuated by such different motives, controlled by such different circumstances, influenced by such different sufferings, you cannot know all the influences that have gone to make up a personality. Therefore, it is impossible for you to judge wholly, that personality. But God knows that person wholly, and He can change it. Leave to God the unraveling of the puzzles of personality. And leave it to God to teach you the proper understanding.
Wow…..I was speechless when I read this. Enough said, and my resentment was GONE! Who the heck do I think I am to judge someone else, until I have walked in their shoes. Sorry…I kind of got off onto another beam here but I do hope to read about some of your experiences as children. :)
I know I said I would be gone for a while in blogland to get things done BUT!!…believe it or not….I started this story over a week ago and it was almost done and I saved it in draft. So, I am not actually telling a lie now am I? Ha ha There I go…worrying about what people think! :)