My childhood was void of iPhones, iPads and neck-bending texting. We had no playgrounds per se. Our playground was the great outdoors and what we did with it was our decision. Hunting and fishing were as much a part of our lives as eating and sleeping. But there are little bits of fun that pop up in my head occasionally.
The Old Man of the Mountains!!! What a sight to behold. My mother’s friend, Lucy, decided one Sunday that Ma should take the three youngest kids and accompany her on a trip “around the White Mountains”, as it was referred to in those days. We were some excited, I can tell you. This was before Ma had a driver’s license and our fun rides were limited to Sunday drives with Dad. Dad’s drives were always the same…up through Newry. Stop the car and point at Mt. Spec or Mt. Speck or however. I never saw it in writing, just heard him point it out with a grand gesture as though we had forgotten from the previous ride. Then we rode forever through trees and eventually ended on East B Hill. That’s all I remember…he was a fanatic about driving to East B Hill and home again. Now whether there was a pattern to this drive, I have no clue. But now we were going on a real ride..a different ride.
We started out early in the morning and her old car chugged up Gorham Hill, past the drive-in as we three kids huddled in the back seat and shared the windows. After what seemed forever, there it loomed. We stood in the ditch and looked upward, mesmerized by the sight of the Old Man’s face on the side of the mountain. It was such a wondrous thing to see. We had heard about it, read about it, seen pictures of it, but there it was ..the real Old Man of the Mountains!!! After looking at it a long time, we continued on to another site called “The Flume”. I remember a lot of rushing water and this is where we had our picnic. We walked along the falls a short way, if I remember correctly. Back into the car and on we chugged. Now this is where it gets interesting. I cannot remember one other great site we saw that day, because the strongest memory is that we got lost. Lucy, Ma and three kids chugged our way into the darkness. Dad was at home waiting and Ma kept wondering if he was worried. These were the days of no cell phones. We were on our own. We kids dozed off in the back seat and I roused when Ma remarked excitedly that there was the Balsams so she knew where we were. We chugged and bucked into the door yard about ten o’clock that night. We had been gone thirteen hours and Dad was asleep and snoring loudly when we tip toed into the kitchen.
Another adventure was my traveling to Benson’s Wild Animal Farm in Hudson, N.H. with a friend and her family from Shelbourne, N.H. Marilyn, her mother, and brothers Russ and Donny and I were to have a great day looking at the animals. We paused outside of this huge glass cage. I did not want to reveal that I was and still am terrified of snakes…but there one was looking as repulsive as it could possibly look. I thought I would stand a moment and move on and no one would be the wiser. As this thought passed through my head, Russ wiggled his fingers on the back of my neck. I screamed, people looked, the entire family jumped and I was horrified to make such a scene. The rest of the day remains in a haze.
Bear Pond Park in North Turner!! What memories of those mill picnics! How we looked forward to those and prayed for sunshine. Oh, the ride though Sumner, West Sumer with the winding roads seemed to take forever to get there but so quickly we got home at the end of the day. Chicken or lobster dinner? We had our choice weeks in advance and I always chose chicken because I didn’t want to smell like lobster the rest of the day. One year Ma and Aunt Norma entertained us with jokes and songs. Charlie Melville put on a dress and pitched a soft ball game. It was such simple fun, but so enjoyed by everyone! When the music started in the roller rink, we sprinted to rent skates and try to avoid breaking a bone as we worked out way around the rink. There was always one or two gliding by to make me feel like an idiot.
We had so little as did most kids, whose parents were mill workers, that we appreciated every bit of fun and every outing. I always hesitate to say “the good old days” as we have advanced so far in so many different directions that the world is better for it. However, there is a lot to be said for the simplicity we enjoyed and to those of us who had very little, a sense of appreciation for everything we had which continued on through our lifetime. We developed a work ethic by example from our parents and that has stayed with us. We developed a sense of respect for our elders and our educators. If we showed any disrespect to our grandparents, we received punishment at home. If our teachers said we were disrespectful, our parents took care of that at home…that very night!!
Growing up in Greenwood Center was not all sweetness and light, but it sure prepared me for what was to come…and the fun memories remain to make me smile on an otherwise…maybe not such a good day…sometimes.