My Dear Readers,
In this time of toil and trouble, and not knowing what is what, I have reverted back to a time of simplicity and wonder. Waynedale, my siblings, and my gang of friends provided me with everything socially that I needed. The new Clyde theater had just been built and it seemed to be a great wonder. It was shaped like no building we had seen before and if you walked in on the hottest day of the summer, you were greeted with the newest thing in your young life: air conditioning! On my recent return home, I drove down Bluffton Road and looked forlornly at the Clyde Theater and saw that the theater of my childhood was no longer a theater. How can they just take a chunk out of your childhood like that? Know what else? Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and James Dean are just as gone as the Clyde Theater.
When I was about 10 years old I had a crush on Dick Cahoon, and he carved our names in “the big tree” at the Waynedale Park behind our grade school. The park was a wonderful place, with wildflowers by the billions, I’m sure, and just a few trails that we, the Waynedale kids, had created. We knew which tree roots to avoid with our bikes. It was very dense then, and not thinned out the way it is today. There was no playground. We just had a big wonderful “woods” to play in. When we climbed the “big tree” (which is what we called the tree with our names carved in it) we could sit together on a limb with our legs dangling down in empty space, Climbing it was no problem for athletes such as we. We talked and laughed and dreamed our dreams. Now Dick is gone too. How could Dick die? He was part of my childhood too. A vacant lot was beside our house and we had great mysteries there. They grew “Garden Spiders” as big as your hand. We tried to avoid them as they were the scariest things we ever knew as children. We knew war! YEP! War was a big part of our childhood! We would choose up sides. Our ammunition was from Mr. Green’s apple tree. Our side would pick as many apples as we could hold and then pass them up our homemade ladder to the fort we built in the tree behind our house, and from there we would wait in ambush. Nothing was as deadly as a well aimed apple from Mr. Green’s tree.
I was asked once what my happiest childhood memory was. I thought and thought because it was hard to decide. I finally chose the most peaceful and safest I have ever felt. I remember laying in a field where the grass and weeds completely concealed me. I was sucking on clover tips, and looking up at the sky. It was a sky stunningly blue with clouds so big and white that the very sight of them on that day filled my soul with wonder. A plane flew overhead. A low, steady drone was the only sound in the world. I had a wonderful dreamy vision of the people in it and where it might be going. I had never even been close to a plane before. But watching the serenity of one up above on that peaceful, content, blissful day has stayed in my mind forever. Last week, I was on the East Coast and heard the sound of a plane. Not like the warm comfort of my childhood, but of another sort. I looked up at the sky and saw not one, but two. They were fighter jets flying in perfect formation.
Waynedale park, the big tree, apple fights, snow balls and peace seemed a long way away. I would wish for every child a Waynedale childhood. It was the best.
Love to all my friends,