When I was 6, Crest toothpaste hit the market. It was big. A new toothpaste so powerful you'd never get cavities again. But, also so powerful that small children should not use it. Only people 6 years or older. I was 6. My brother and sister were not. I could use adult toothpaste and they could not.
We had a Nash Rambler. And the Beep Beep song was hot. Every time it came on the car radio, we had a massive, windows down family sing. Every Single Time. Plus some other times, too. We were into that Nash Rambler.
But, then Dad met his new best friend at church. Carl Stewart owned the Buick dealership so any and all cars in our family were Buicks.
I begged to learn how to play the piano. I took lessons from a little old lady who lived down the street. The lessons were nearly as boring as school and I learned exactly that much. I never practiced and finally the little old lady fired me.
I was not an athletic child. I am not an athletic adult. Swimming it the only even remotely athletic thing I have ever done. BUT, even so, I conquered bike riding pretty early on. Tricycles were for babies and, frankly, so were training wheels. So I jut learned how to ride the damn thing - no fuss involved.
[current aside: Yesterday, ljtourist and I popped into Walmart to get a battery, and there, by the front door were two rows of kids bikes. One row was pink and one was not. BUT the pink row was girls bikes - no crotch bar. WHY????? Girls bikes - my own first bike - had no crotch bar because often you had to ride in dresses. I wonder how many decades it has been since a little girl rode a bike in a dress with only underpants (no tights or leggins) under her dress? Why oh why don't they put crotch bars on all bikes?]
I did steal Daddy's gin cards and Mom's clothes pins for my bike spokes. You could hear me coming. We rode our bikes everywhere always constantly. And without restriction.
When we weren't riding bikes we were roller skating. we had great sidewalks. And our roller skates had keys. They looked like this:
A couple of skate notes. One key worked them all. You needed it to tighten those little gripper things around the sole of your shoes at the balls of your feet. If they weren't tight, your skates did not stay on. So, if you lost your key (which only happened 83 times a day, any kid's key would work. Ted Heefner - 2 doors down - could always be counted on to have a skate key. He was really responsible like that.)
The first sneakers - Keds - were hitting the market about this time. We all LOVED them but the skates did not. The soft soles were no match for the skate grippers. I wonder, now, if Keds were not the deal knell of kid skates?
Just like us kids had friends all over the neighborhood, so did Mother and Daddy. They loved to gather the neighbors for beer and a cook out. Daddy always had the best outdoor grill he could find. We had the perfect back yard patio for a neighborhood gathering. Somebody's dad had a guitar and someone else had a ukele and they would put us to bed and then gather around the grill and sing songs and drink for hours and hours. My room overlooked that patio so I got the full show every time and it was just wonderful.
Daddy particularly loved a party. Mom wasn't too bad a partier herself. North Carolina did not have liquor by the drink so there were very few restaurants - only one really nice dinner place. All partying took place in people's home. Our home saw a lot of it. It was always fun. They'd drink up a storm and then head out to the nice restaurant and we'd finish off their dregs.
Partly because of the no restaurant thing but mostly because of the heritage and burgeoning civil rights* movement, country clubs were the social hub. There were two. One old, venerable one and one new, upstart one. Almost everyone we knew belonged to one or the other. We belonged to the old one. Mother played tennis there every day nearly year round. We spent every single Summer day from the minute school let out until they forced us back again in September, in the swimming pool. We took lessons in the morning and played all afternoon. We played dibble dabble and Marco Polo and ran around like hooligans.
The country clubs had fine dining rooms and a wonderful grill by the pool so we often had lunch here after church on Sundays and other times, too. We had birthday parties there. Our friends were there. We grew up with the staff there. It was really idyllic. Except, of course*.
African Americans worked there but were not members. Hal Kaplan's family were not members. Membership was tightly controlled and no one ever discussed it. As kids we were truly oblivious. And isolated. It was such a wonderful place then and now that is now kind of shameful to remember.
To Be Continued