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Rated: E · Short Story · Experience · #2238353
A Work in Progress- Childhood through the 60's and 70's revisited
Housing Memories

They circled the little girl standing in the field, like Indians around the wagon and something straight out of a black and white western. There were three little Indians on bikes testing the blond child with the pixie cut and the green soiled poplin sun suit. Lori stuck three of her fingers in her mouth and let them hang as her personal pacifier. She was scared enough to want to wet her pants, but smart enough to know it wouldn’t serve her well in future social endeavors. Mommy always told her she was too big to pee in her pants, and she was almost 5, so she figured she better hold it.

“Hi,” she whispered at the circling Indians.

The bikers stopped all at once and their eyes scanned the girl from head to toe. Lori was very glad she hadn’t given into the earlier urges.

“You’re new! Where you’d come from?” said the dark eyed girl, who she would later come to know as Diane.

“We just moved here, my family and me.”

“Yeah, but who are you?”

“Lori, I got brothers and sisters too.”

“How old are you?”

“Five, almost,” she said, wanting suddenly not to seem like a baby. She noticed that the other two bike riders never spoke. Diane was in charge.

“Which house?”

Lori took her fingers out of her mouth just long enough to point and then promptly slung them back in the wet cavern.
“I have a sister your age. I’ll bring her by later,” she said.


“I’m Diane…her name is Margaret.” she called over shoulder as she whisked her bike out of the circle of Indians and down the sidewalk. The others followed silently behind her.

Lori ran into the new apartment to announce to her family that she would soon have a new friend visiting. She could barely contain her excitement or her earlier urges so she ran up the stairs two at a time to find the bathroom. For the next hour she sat in front of the window waiting for a girl named Margaret, who would turn out to be the best friend, nemesis, and sidekick ever.

When I was just a child of four, we moved to the Homes of the Villa Griffin. They were town house styled apartments fastened together neatly in rows, or better known as subsidized housing for families that were poverty stricken. Erected just a few blocks from the Park of Jones and nestled in the midst of North Park Drive, it was a place for about 220 families to call their home, with the nearest monuments being the Towers of Lansdowne for senior dwelling, and a sketchy view of the arch on mornings clear. If the wind blew just right the stench from the stock yards slaughter house filled the night air. A cavernous field graced the backside of our apartment where my days were passed in youthful pursuit. It was a great place to find the never-ending game of base or pickle ball. Summertime spent in our field meant lemonade stands, banana bikes, sheet fashioned tents, Chinese jump-rope, Jacks, and Cowboys versus Indians. We cooled ourselves under the shade of an elm or the spigot of a hose. During the rainy seasons, our field would return to its once swampy existence giving life to creatures big and small. Numerous childhood memories were made by snatching frogs, lizards, and snakes from that gully. In the winter, the hill gave us joy on its snowy slope from sleds fashioned from cardboard. As I look back on my time spent in the poor man's field, I know for certain it housed a wealth of childhood dreams.

She pushed her nose against the screen door looking in, “Hey we’re gonna climb trees… Wanna come?”

Lori glanced up at her mom, still busy unpacking the last load of household items, with the pleading eyes of a child desperate to play anywhere else.

Her mom turned to the new visitor still standing with her nose pushed against the screen. “This is Lori, what’s your name?”

“I know her name, my sister told me. We’re gonna climb trees.”

“And your name?”

“Margaret Bogosian. I live in building 4. Over there,” she said, pointing with her head and backing away from the door for the first time since arriving.

When you stepped out of our front door, you were greeted by a small yard to call your own. The porches were littered with lawn chairs for parents to peruse the neighborhood activity. In the summer when the blackouts were many and the heat was exhausting, neighbors gathered to gossip and play. There were countless bowls of popcorn shared. We frolicked in the moonlight with late night games of flashlight tag, Simon says, and Red Rover.{Sometimes mom would let us put a sheet over the clothes line for a tent and we would just sleep outside. It was great fun if you were a kid. In the center of a blacktopped area lived the multi-colored playground equipment, a basketball hoop, an often-times nonfunctional swing set, and a multitude of hopscotch chalk drawings Government workers repainted the equipment each summer restoring its vibrant shades of yellow, red, and blue. It was a well known fact, the metal monkey bars had the ability to cause third degree burns in the blazing summer sun, but somehow it never stopped us from racing to the top of the tower. There was an art to tree climbing back in the day, and the perfect tree for doing just that resided in our triangular grassy knoll. In my mind, I can still see ten to twenty kids hanging from the limbs of that overgrown sapling.

Another really great thing about this neighborhood was Halloween. The costumes were simple and usually last minute but a kid with a pillowcase could make a haul of candy to last the entire winter. I once dressed up as a trash bag, complete with garbage items glued to my hefty. We would trick or treat from 5-10 making several trips home to lighten our pillow case. We traveled in packs and traversed many blocks.

At any given time when I travel down memory's path, the theme from Cheers with the line "everybody knows your name" dances in my head. Every parent in that complex knew what family you belonged to and there were never any qualms about calling you out for bad behavior. If you heard your name laced at the end of a threat about calling your Mamma you better run quick. It wasn't uncommon to find two teenage girls supervising a gaggle of unruly urchins being kept in line by the mere glaring of an eye. Times were simpler, and crime and punishment were quick and decisive. It was the people we encountered along the way that made our existence memorable, special, strange, fun, and noteworthy. Public housing in the 60's and 70's afforded an opportunity to build an extended family, learn each other's secrets through paper-thin walls, scrabblize with friends, marble-shoot with misfits, and toss knifes at the toes of your kin. Often we were blessed by souls with morals, faith, camaraderie, and good deeds. As with every where, we came upon the occasional malcontents, drunks, criminals, and evil doers, but it only helped to paint the pallet of our lives. Griffin life became a subculture for struggling families with big dreams of a better life.

Like pages that fill a book, the names of the families we met clutter my mind. There were the Bogosians , the Cawveys, the Gross', the Lawsons, the Grahms, the Brewers, and the Tuggles. There was Popeye, Grandma Heidi, Gail, Mr. Trowbridge, Jason, and Kevin. There were the Woods, the Reeds, and the Wolfs. There were too many families to list, that us Cleveland's communed with in our childhood. Life tends to boil down to emotional connection and shared experiences. There is a tendency to capture the past of our youthful endeavors through the hourglass lens of perfection, there were lessons learned and struggles to toughen the heart along the way. We cannot romanticize the truth from our history.
When we moved to the villa, there were gardeners, maintenance men, and community programs for the kids. The fields were always cut and the playgrounds well maintained. The trees were always trimmed and the parking lots plowed. Each summer, we kids signed up for activities and day trips to keep us busy. It was a miraculous place for kids and for parents that had to work.

I now must recount the legend of our endless summer ball games that took place in our field. There wasn't a day of sunshine where there wasn't a ballgame being played in that field. Kids from 8-20 played. It was a rotating league of faces. If you walked up to play then you were placed on a team until your mom called you to come home. I was a pretty good ball player by the time I actually got to be on an organized team. I played short stop for the Holy Angels Catholic School team for several years. {

As a child growing up, I was protected and safe, with very little true perspective on the woes of the society around me. Sure, there were snippets of gossip that passed through one ear and out the other, but only with age did I view the real portrait. I somehow managed to escape the fact that we were poor. It wasn't being showered with gifts that caused my oblivion, it was being loved, always busy, accountable, and a mom who showed up everyday for the task God asked of her. Faith is my personal treasure and has seen me through any dark days. My mother once told me that if you always have someone to believe in and someone to lean on then life can be good, and faith in God is a good place to start, because he is always listening. Her life was not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination, but she never forgot how to find her comfort in prayer.

So a poor woman raising five kids on her own ensured that they were raised in the Catholic faith. I was sent to Holy Angels in E. St. Louis, IL to be educated in the 60's and early 70's. I can picture the faces of every nun, teacher, and priest I met in those days. Some of them made a greater impact than others, but all of them helped shape the person that I have become. In first grade I was graced with Sister Dorthea and someone truly knew what they were doing by placing her in the path of new learners. I swore she was a princess dressed in black, with the rosiest of cheeks and the prettiest of smiles. I never got to see her hair, because as nuns did back then, she always wore her habit. I imagined it as long black and flowing She was energetic, warm, and motherly and managed to entice us to learn. I loved that woman! Second grade introduced me to Mrs. Ziaja, a very sweet woman that encouraged us in everything we did. She taught us to believe in ourselves and to be kind to others. I can remember the beanie veils girls were still required to wear at mass and that I was forever guilty of forgetting mine. It cost a nickel to buy a replacement in the office and I was a kid forever without money. She would pull one out of her desk for me anytime the need arose. She somehow knew how badly it upset me when a nun pinned a Kleenex, (never quite sure if it was clean or dirty), on my head. I owe that woman lots of veil money. From there I spent time with Miss Kinder/Mrs. Rudy, Mrs. McDonald, Mrs. Habien, Mrs. Fantini, Sisters Michaeline, Urban Maureen, Barbara Jean, and Mary John.

Sister Michaeline made quite an impression upon me. I was in her classroom my 6
th and 7th grade years. She was tough task master. She expected continuous effort, bright energetic children, and rule followers. I failed miserably at times to meet her criteria, but she never gave up on me. She held me responsible for my own behavior. When I did succeed she never failed to tell me that I did well . She once told me that I would someday be a writer of words and there is nothing I like better than penning a tale.

Monsignor Cunningham was our flock leader for most of my years. He scared me, not for anything he ever did to me, but because he was in charge. We went to church everyday and I was in awe of the church's ornate beauty. When I was old enough to sing in the choir, I was mesmerized by the stained glass and precious statues from the view of the loft. I can't remember the name of the priest that sometimes played the guitar at masses but remember that I loved hearing him sing. I was a nut, and still am, for all of the lyrical and comforting church hymns. Singing brought our little faith community together and enriched our church going experience.

A bit of a rebel blossomed in my heart as a child, I mentioned many times to anyone that would listen how unfair it was that girls weren't allowed to serve on the altar. Times were different then, and thankfully we have seen that all people can be of service to their parish. I am from the era of the Flying Nun and remember jumping from trees with a pillowcase on my head. We pretended to hold mass and to pass out communion in our homemade tents garbed in table cloths. I was also a tomboy and would threaten any person daring to stop me from being the priest because of my gender at our makeshift ceremonies.

I also remember tromping to the office when they called your name once a month. I have already mentioned being unaware of our poverty so those visits to the office had no bearing on my life.
Only years later, did I discover they were because our tuition was delinquent. Occasionally, I witnessed a tearful classmate in the same predicament, but never one to ask questions I assumed they came for an icepack for some physical injury. To this day, I honestly don't know if I just didn't pay attention or my mother just never told me the price she paid to send us to that school. She was insistent that we remained at Holy Angels and took in sewing projects to help pay for the tuition. I am sure we were given grants along the way and there were only two times I wasn't called to the office with the other debt-ridden families.

School picnics were an event that we anticipated with glee, just as if the circus had come to town. They were elaborate and the rides and booths covered the entire parking lot. We Catholic girls had to kneel on the steps to have our skirts measured before we were allowed outside among strangers. I believe the ride tickets cost ten cents and people were outraged when they changed to a quarter. I can remember carrying bags of stuffed animals home. And the sweet homemade treats were mouth watering. It was like Christmas in May, and people came from all around to support the parish. These picnics were also the catalyst for my fear of heights. One trip on the Ferris wheel with my brother shaking the car while we dangled at the top proved too much for my delicate stomach filled with sugar. I puked on a passerby walking below us. Once I was on solid ground again, I ran all the way home and feared the man would be mad at me. No ramifications resulted, but my dislike of the Ferris wheel remains steadfast.

My kids will never believe that we walked 12 blocks to school each day. They have learned to roll their eyes at this measurement and add the inevitable, "through 5 feet of snow, right Mom?" but I remember it well. We never failed to gather a flock of other kids along the way. There was a store half way between home and school, the name escapes me, but many a kid spent money on the Chillie Willies or the baseball cards with cardboard tasting gum. I am sure there were times I complained about the long trek, but it always seemed like an adventure. There were rocks to skip, ropes to jump, and secrets to learn. We walked past the Hoef's, the Cunningham's, the Flynn's, Eisele's Drug store, and the bakery. We mingled with the occasional Lansdowne kids, but our uniforms grouped us together.

My family was a great lover of games, and I tell myself that Milton and Bradley may very well have been long distant cousins. We spent hours each week in front of the Monopoly board and that little metal dog knew me by name. Scrabble was my mother's favorite and the matches were intense. Our favorite card games were Pinochle, Hearts, and Spades. Often times, the games were neighborhood events held at our tiny apartment, but it never seemed overcrowded.

Life was simpler in those days, or so I tell myself, but it all relates to familiarity. We knew what was expected of us and the rules to follow. As kids, we weren't saddled down by mortgages or heavy world problems. The only requirements for youth were passable grades, snow shoveling, and grass mowing. If we were lucky we were taught to love one another, be kind, pray for the less fortunate, and help others. To this day when an ambulance passes I catch myself reciting JMJ while signing the cross. Old habits die hard. Manners were expected and nonnegotiable. We were taught to address all adults with a title (Miss, Mrs., Aunt) and never by their first name. Please and thank you are ever ready tools on the tip of my tongue. I still hold doors open for the elderly, because I refuse to qualify myself as a member of this group yet. We learned how to cook basic essentials, do the dishes, and fold clothes at the Laundromat during our family time. We saved money in our piggy banks, as we dreamed of purchasing our greatest desire. We were taught life skills, because we were home to watch and learn. The crazies of the world were only alluded to in hushed tones and were smaller in their numbers. Our playtime wasn't as threatening and dangerous, and our only monsters were the stuffed animals in the closet. We made mud pies for fun, drank hot cocoa waiting for the school cancelations in the snowy weather, and placed bread wrappers on our feet to keep them dry. Life's pace was slower, or at least nostalgia draws this idyllic image in our hearts as we age. I have no doubt the current generation will etch quaint memories for themselves.

My mother worked 8-5 each day as an assistant furrier at Stix Baer and Fuller in St. Louis. She spent her days piecing fur coats together and placing linings in them for the wealthy. She was a seamstress of great talent. It was a skill that earned her a living and helped put clothes on her kid's backs. With just a needle and thread, that woman could weave a tapestry of the finest clothing. I was blessed to have a new Easter coat each season. The play dresses and rompers she made for me are styles that today are featured in the retro section of the finest retailers. She was a trend setter. Loving nothing better than a challenge, she once made a tux for my brother, just because she had never made one before. My favorite story ever was the one about the hamster dress. She made herself a very sleek tan knit dress out of material that she found on sale on a Saturday morning. She loved how well the dress had turned out and was excited to wear it to work the following Monday. She hung it on the back of the closet door to show a friend of hers when the scrabble wars were underway later that day. The dress was hanging directly above the hamster cage and someone left the closet door open. As hamsters will do, ours chewed and chewed the new food hanging above its head. The entire bottom of the dress went missing before the deed was discovered. As moms will do, she got pretty mad. Then, she did something extraordinary. She sewed an entirely new bottom onto the dress from brown scraps of material that she had from an earlier project. She had a new two-toned stylish dress from which she received more compliments and requests to make others. We then forever called this her hamster dress. She also enjoyed making Barbie clothes for my dolls. I had the best dressed dolls in the neighborhood. There were times that she was allowed to take scrap pieces of fur from work. My Barbie's were delighted to have fancy fur stoles. It wasn't until I was adult that I realized what a great gift that I was given. I did not inherit her talent; however, she sewed anything I ever needed so my pursuits were spent elsewhere. There were many times that she tried to teach me the art of sewing but being a tomboy I found myself running out to play baseball as quickly as I could. This is one of my few regrets in life. I envy and miss her skill very much.

With my mother working in St. Louis, we were treated to trips on Bi-State to view the yearly Christmas displays. It was a family affair and a memory that I hold dear. The mechanical figurines and the glistening displays in the retail windows were amazing. Almost every store in the downtown area participated, and we kids, strolled the decorated blocks while donning our holiday cheer. The streets were filled with magic for those that believed.

One of our most cherished holiday gifts each year was a chocolate covered orange wrapped in brightly colored tin foil. The chocolate held just a hint of orange flavoring and was neatly sliced in sweet gooey wedges. And we Catholic kids were always sure to count down the days of Christmas with Advent calendars.

Riding the bus was an everyday occurrence for many in the days of my youth. The bus stops were on every corner and the bus took you anywhere in the city for the price of a token. It was a safe, reliable, affordable, and crowded mode of transportation. Men in their business suits, the ladies in their office finery or uniformed attire, and the kids transferring for long school commutes waited for the rectangular shaped conveyer of people to begin their days. On cold days, kids played in the smoke from the bus’ exhaust while the passengers loaded. Just like in the summer when we chased the fogger for fun, a comparable health risk to the tide-pod eaters of today. I remember meeting my mom at the bus stop many times after work, but the day she carried home my Mrs. Beasley doll was the most memorable day of all. Buffy, Anissa Jones had made an appearance at Stix, Baer and Fuller where my mother worked and she was able to see her and get a doll for me. She was beautiful in her blue and white polka dotted dress and shiny square-framed glasses. It was one of my most prized possessions for many years.

In those days Bi-State employed many people, and allowed even more people to get to their jobs that were so necessary for survival. Funny thing is, that I don’t even know if my kids would know how to move around the city on a bus or the value of a monthly pass. In my seventh and eighth grade years, I was a paper girl for the Metro-East Journal. Every Saturday, I boarded the bus to head to downtown E. St. Louis to turn in my collections. I was often alone or accompanied by one friend. Our safety wasn’t a concern because we knew every person on the bus. An enormous sense of pride followed me when I turned in the weekly receipts to the newspaper. Responsibility is an awesome thing for kid building. Probably the most tragic loss of all for this generation is the freedom to explore the world due to fear from the crimes of others and E. St. Louis doesn’t hold the patent on this.

We spent hours in the dime stores located on the bus route, ordering food at Woolworth’s counter, buying penny lipsticks, trying on wigs, and just pretending we were rich. There was probably some mischief involved at these stores, but I choose to forget about my youthful shenanigans. I do remember drawing faces on the Styrofoam mannequin heads and waiting for the counter help to notice our funniness, because I was very good at moustaches. Of course, I always ended up spending my hard earned money on a bag of penny candy for the bus ride home.

These are the type of days that cause me to reminisce, you know, the blistering cold, hide your head under the blanket, do nothing but wait for the predicted storm to roll in, kind of days. It is always a toss of the coin as to whether the predictors will get it right or Mother Nature will withhold the flaky fortunes or pummel them into submission with unrelenting snow. I remember as a kid waiting for the first flake to fall and believing that magic was about to dance right out of the clouds. At the mere mention of snow, I would dig out every hat, glove, boot, and sled ever to grace our closets. It seemed as if I could smell and taste the flakes before they had even fallen, and for a small part of our childhood, time would stand still. And the stage would be set for a jaunty romp through fields of joyous laughter, memory-making, castle-building, sled-sliding, snowball to the face dream-away days.

Waking up to snow blasted windows was magical in itself. It was the only time that you experienced the excitement of dashing outside to use, for the first time, the ruler buried in your backpack, that your parents bought at the beginning of the school year. The hard plastic, white lined, 12 inch tool meant for math problems would suddenly transform into a beaker of scientific importance with the ability to make or break a child’s heart. Tradition had my brother and I, as the youngest of the brood, racing out the door to measure the snow banks. If we measured anything above 4 inches we called it good and returned to the indoors to await the official verdict. That announcement would come from some older guy planted in a square box standing in front of a map. We all gathered to watch the television, wrapped tightly in our blankets, squirming with impatience for the screen to scroll around to the “H’s”. Mom busied herself in the kitchen, cooking a kettle of water for hot chocolate and laid out the marshmallows awaiting our screams of delight. She somehow always knew before us what the verdict would be, but she never spoiled the fun.

By nature, I was always a rule follower, not a super star in the grade department, but I turned my homework in when expected. Yet, on snow predicted days, I turned into a rebel and pushed the homework off until the magical tomorrow of never-never land. If my magical snow day disappeared, I would sweat bullets the whole darn day, but I wouldn’t trade my blanket covered dreams for anything.

Games of the 60’s and 70’s

The Chinese Jump Rope was once a child’s game that I played daily. The real kits that were sold in the stores were striped rounded pieces of elastic tied together at the ends by knots. There was a colorful board with the rules written in bold print. I couldn’t afford the beast so mine were made by my mom from flat white elastic sewn together on the ends by a zigzag stitch. If it were to break she just pieced it together again. It was a game that could be played with friends or as a solo endeavor by strategically placing two chairs far enough apart to stretch the elastic. The rules have long escaped my memory, but there were levels with special movements between the elastic for the player to accomplish. Each level was a bit harder than the previous one and if you were unable to accomplish the task your turn was ended. There were also verses that we sang as each level was completed. For a long time now, I have been in search of a set of instructions for this game, but I will tell you in no uncertain terms, DO NOT GOOGLE, as apparently this game has new and despicable options that I was unaware of as a kid. When my kids were little and I was in my 30’s, I searched the internet to find this game (the kid friendly version) online and my computer went ballistic. Pornographic images cascaded on the screen and then a threatening banner warning of illegal content splashed across the monitor. I was never so scared in my life. I turned off the computer and don’t think I returned to using it for a week. I have never entered a search for the rules of that game since then and I was never able to teach my kids the joy of the simple game that I played as a kid.

Click-Clacks were a big thing in the early 70’s. It was a girly game that chased away many recess hours for us Catholic girls. It consisted of 2 sparkle-filled balls on a string. The balls were brightly colored and made sparks when they banged together at high speeds. It took a certain amount of finesse to get the balls flying hard and clacking in a pattern of high energy. The talent stemmed from the ability to maintain enough momentum to keep the action going for long periods of time. The winner was declared by the timer and the person with the greatest endurance. Click-clacks built arm strength and were great for building hand and eye coordination. However, sadly they also tended to put an occasional eye out, which is why they were pulled from the market. Who’d have thunk it? Glass balls burst from repeated battering! So for the sake of nostalgia, they made them small and put them on rubber bands for us to put in our hair.

Jarts were a much loved family game. But we were smart enough to not throw them at people’s heads. Here was another game pulled off the market for safety reasons. I did get hit in the foot once and boy did it smart. But it never stopped us from playing a daily game of barefooted stretch. This was the game played with a kitchen knife, a pocket knife, or any sharp shiny metal capable of sticking in the dirt. Opponent faced each other in the upright position as the game started. Turns were taken by tossing the knife into the dirt and attempting to get it to stick. If it stuck, the opponent would have to stretch their leg to where the knife stood without falling. On your turn you could either cause the other person to stretch or use the opportunity to stick the knife in front of you to get unstretched. Needless to say, there were injuries along the way, but it never stopped us from playing.

There was nothing better than a neighborhood game of marbles. There were some 20 odd kids clustered around a chalked circle hoping to win their friend’s cats-eye shooter. I kept my prizes in a homemade cloth bag. My Saturday mornings were spent stooped over the nearest outdoor marble shoot.

My family spent many hours playing the great game of Monopoly. It also often ended with fights and tears. It was a long and mentally taxing game capable of sending a mere child to the poor house. That mere child was usually me, the doggie of the game. I always wanted to be the dog token, for which my brother gave me the endless “Dog” nickname. It made my mother so mad. As I grew up I got better about loosing at games but Monopoly still takes me back to those childhood days and I tend to get a bit competitive.

Fireflies, Butterflies, and Frogs

Beaded bits of light traveling through the air by the thousands greeted us on the summer nights of June. As nature’s official start to summer fireflies hung on the trees, blades of grass, and the greenery of our little field. They seemed to twinkle like the night stars in the sky bringing glee to the neighborhood kids. Once the first firefly was seen, a call for the hunt was on causing kids to dash inside to hunt for jars in their mother’s cabinets. The lids for the glass jars were usually makeshift covers to keep the firelights in place. There was always one kid that managed to have actual Mason jars with metal lids and holes punched for air. That child was the envy of every kid. We would gather in the field to hunt the elusive glowing bug to place in our jars.
We would all stop to help the one screaming kid who seemed too slow to catch the fireflies. I remember the laughter that echoed through the night as we swatted at the bushes and the grass to get the bugs to shine their light. It is what happened after our fun, that I have pushed from my mind. The number of bug butts we ripped off to place on foreheads as cool light ups, bothers me still today. Or the numerous jars of dead bugs found frying in the sunshine the day after our hunt was atrocious. I believe our generation was the biggest cause in the decline of the firefly.

Monarch Butterflies

The velvety golden-brown fluttering creatures of nature that are laced in a blackened mascara-like outline are my favorite memory of childhood insect. So regal, the Monarch seemed to float through the air above the tops of dandelions and field lilies. They were almost dreamlike to watch, and could carry a child’s imagination far from the troubles and worries of home. The butterflies in flight offered tranquility and peace. Their gentle landings upon your nose or shoulder, displayed the grace of a kiss given by an angel. As kids, there were moments that we wanted nothing more than to hold onto the serenity the butterfly gifted.

Margaret said, “Hey, let’s catch butterflies today.”

“I have a net,” Lori said, as she raced to her house and back in no time.

They captured over 20 Monarchs that day and even some odd butter-colored Butterflies. The girls stared at the jar for several minutes basking in the beauty of the creatures. An occasional stick was placed in the jar for the insects to climb upon. Each time the jar was opened a butterfly or two would earn its freedom and the girls would silently watch the creature float away.

“Let’s see what happens when we let them loose in the dark, “she said.


“In my bedroom, I want to wake up to butterflies in the morning,” Margaret whispered.

The thought was good and the deed was done, but butterflies do not fair well with ceiling lights, curtains, and kids swatting at them. By morning, many butterfly carcasses lined the window. They were still finding butterflies six months after the deed.


Although I wrestled with the occasional bullfrogs, my most fun was had with catching the little one inch frogs that called our field home. The easiest place to catch them was at the base of the light pole. If you dug through the grass, frogs and crickets would hop in a flurry of escape. We captured as many as we could and placed them in our trusty jars. A bit of shame and guilt still lingers in my mind, when I tell this next part of the tale. We would toss those little froggies against a brick wall to see if they would jump off. Some would and some couldn’t. I don’t remember when I finally developed empathy for all creatures big and small, but I spent a few summers being incredibly stupid.

© Copyright 2020 L.A. Grawitch (lgrawitch at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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