In the 1970s and early ’80s, I suspect most parents forgot that their kids weren’t adults.
We were left to our own devices. A lot.
We walked everywhere, when there was no way to keep track of us.
We were kicked out of our houses all summer long after breakfast, and weren’t expected back home til it got dark enough to signal dinnertime.
There were no cell phones or pagers or texting or instant messaging to keep in touch.
There were no hot web cams to allow moms and dads to peek in on the kids back home while they plugged away at the office.
There was no way to know what was going on, what change of plans happened, unless the kid ran back home and someone was there to tell.*
*And really, what kid would waste valuable summer day adventure time doing that?
There were only two things us kids needed to know:
1. Our home address
2. Our telephone number
I remember being four or five years old, standing on the kitchen chair that had been dragged into the hallway outside our only bathroom.
I remember looking at the round dial on the mustard-yellow rotary phone hanging on the wall, thinking how it looked like a silly clock.
I can see my skinny white fingers poking into the assigned spot on the clear disk, and dragging it all the way around to the little silver crescent moon-looking metal piece to dial each number.
9…dut dut dut dut dut dut dut dut
4…dut dut dut
0…dut dut dut dut dut dut dut dut dut
I was amazed at the spinning of the disk each time I released my finger, proud that I could remember all those numbers in the right order and get my finger all the way around to silver crescent without slipping.
Next to the phone in my mom’s wispy handwriting was our address on a recipe card. Her “R” in “Road” like a lollipop with two sticks.
As a little kid, I didn’t need to know anything more than seven digits and a street address.
I assumed that the only time I would ever need to use my 2 memorized pieces of information would be to give it to a friendly policeman to bring me home if I wandered too far from my neighborhood on my own.**
**A very tempting ice cream shop was on the other side of the woods from our house. Just ask my brother, who “ran away” to there on a regular basis and refused to give a policeman his information until someone bought him a cone.
Conversely, I look at my own kids, knowing that they need to know so much more than just seven digits and a street address, and I wrestle with when it is the right time to teach them.
Now that I actually am an adult, I can see that in some ways it was a crazy time, but in others it was a simpler one.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This post was written for The Red Dress Club Memoir writing prompt.
The prompt went like this:
We want to know what, from your childhood, do you still know by heart?
Is it a story? A jump-roping song? The number of rungs on the ladder to your treehouse? How much money you had to save to buy something you really wanted?
I am terrible – terrible – at remembering phone numbers. I swear to you, I’ve had my current cell# for about 11 years and still pause to remember it correctly when giving it to someone.
Yet, I can rattle off that first phone number and home address like it was simply remembering the color of my eyes. It is tattooed in my memory, and I just can’t shake it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
If you are new to Let Me Start By Saying…welcome! I have some more short memoir posts here. Or check out the About Kim page to learn more about me. For some funny, check out my Favorite Posts page. Thanks for visiting!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
If you like what you read here, please click the VOTE FOR ME! brown banner below. A single click on this each time you visit helps gain me more readers from the Top Mommy Blogs website. Thanks in advance!