This photo. This photo sort of sums up my childhood.
That’s me, with one of my not so great hairstyles, wearing one of my brothers hand-me-down baseball tees, making a weird face because my oldest brother made it a thing to make weird faces in photos. My grandfather is holding me while wearing the headgear for the Halloween costume I had desperately wanted that year. It was an inflatable pumpkin head that came with a pumpkin themed cape and green face paint. Bumpkin Pumpkin I think was its name.
There was a ghost one as well.
It was the late 70’s…maybe very early 80’s. It made sense at the time.
Behind us, what pops out at me are three things.
Thing #1 – the patio. The limestone patio that we created ourselves. My neighbors were building a new deck with fancy for our blue collar burb landscaping…built from railroad ties. Because it was the South Side of Chicago, you made loads of stuff from railroad ties. But in digging up their front yard, they kept pulling out limestone rocks – because, again, that’s what you find around the South Side of Chicago. Limestone. Everywhere.
My mom got this idea to extend the concrete patio with the limestone, as it was free from the neighbor’s yard. Sure, this only required my brothers and I to make 529 trips with our little red wagon from the neighbor’s front yard to our back yard. But then we got to play in concrete.
That’s a lie. No one would let us play with the concrete that time.
Thing #2 – the garage. The blue garage, painted to match the house. I guess it had been tan, but my mother soon changed that. It was a memorable house, because at the time, no one painted their house an outlandish color like light blue! I used to give directions to my house as “It’s the light blue house on 52nd Avenue.” – which would garner the response of “OMG, that’s you’re house?”
And I loved that big blue house with it’s white trim, boxy shape, and octagon window centered above the front door.
Thing #3 – the big maple tree in the back yard.
Okay, so now looking at it, it doesn’t seem that big. But it was. It grew as tall as the house, and at one point, kept the garage upright as the garage leaned over the years. As kids, my brothers and I tied a rope around the big branch and tried to climb up the tree that way. I made it to the first branch, which was pretty damn high considering how small I was at the time. Eventually, a good rope was secured, a tire tied to it, and we had a tire swing back there over the sandbox my mom built in the not-so-grassy part under the tree. Oh sure, it was really meant for the little kids, but we teenagers may have had too much fun on said tire swing. Which may or may not have resulted in us having to replace the rope.
That backyard was my childhood, where my story started. And my grandfather was the Master Storyteller, from which I learned so much, from how to crack an egg to how to check the oil in the car – and most of all, how to find the humor in anything, and that it was okay to be a little ridiculous.
This is part of the 31 Days writing challenge…to find out more about it or read more from this challenge, mosey on over here…