Growing up in the late 70s and early 80s was a magical time of adventure for my brother and me.
I don’t remember spending any Summer days indoors. My parents set boundaries on how far we could go in the neighborhood, and we usually stayed within them. But staying within a couple of blocks from home was the only rule. The neighborhood mothers didn’t facilitate play dates, and they never hung around us while we played.
There is a wide contrast between my childhood and the childhood of my children. When they were small, I carefully buckled them into the five point harness car seats so tightly they could barely move and as silly as they looked, I made them wear bicycle helmets when they rode tricycles. I, on the other hand, was never buckled into a car seat as a child. Many days my mother drove to town with me riding in the back window of our Chevy Impala. And a helmet? Those were for Evel Knievel. No, we preferred to jump homemade ramps and ride the streets bareheaded.
One of the most euphoric activities of my wild and carefree childhood happened on Summer evenings- when Smoky Joe would make his appearance
We could hear the puttering motor of his truck from several blocks away.
I remember jumping up from the supper table and busting out the door with my little brother in hot pursuit when we heard Smoky Joe coming down our street.
As he passed by our house, we stepped into the road; our tanned bodies enveloped in billowing clouds of smoke; blissfully unaware of any cars that might be coming, or the dangers of all of that bug spray on our skin and in our lungs.
You see, Smoky Joe was the town bug man, and he drove an old Ford truck, fashioned with a large barrel on the back that blew out giant white gusts of bug killer -with great force.
Oh! It was wonderful!
We’d go back inside after the smoke cleared with the scent of bug spray still clinging to our hair and skin, and sit back down to supper. I don’t know if my parents didn’t realize what we had been doing or were just unaware of the dangers
Things were different back then.
That’s the news from the homestead, see you next week!