Last night I had a very hard time sleeping. It might have had something to do with my Dads 80th birthday coming up in April. For some reason my mind took me back to 1955 and would not allow me to leave that time period or fall asleep. I was born June 24th 1955 at Indianapolis IN. Thinking about all of these memories, it seems like many lifetimes ago but I can see things like they happened yesterday.
We actually lived in a very small town called Carmel. My first recollections of Carmel, we lived in a rental home on Range Line Road. I lived there from about 2 years old until I was about 8 years old. I have a very good memory when it comes to my early years. I would like to share some snippets of memories and brief thoughts about those early years. Our home had a small plot of land in the backyard, maybe 1/8 to 1/4 acre, that was dedicated to my Dads garden. My Dad had someone with a tractor and plow come over to turn the soil to get it prepared for seeding. He would plant several types of beans, corn and other vegetables. On weekends, he would get up early and go out back to work on his garden. When I would get up, I would go out back and watch him. My Dad has always enjoyed gardening and still does. At the end of the growing season, I would gather up the old corn stalks and build teepee's that I could go into and hide. In the back yard, we also had what I will call a grape arbor. It had a trellis on both sides and trellis on the top of it. The grapes would grown up the sides and over the top of the arbor. When it was completely covered with grapes, it reminded me of a short tunnel. If I had to guess now, I would say this arbor was about 30 feet long.
My Dad was just starting his career with the US Geological Service during this time period. He used to have a friend named Dave who also worked for the USGS. Dave used to come over frequently and spend time with my Dad. My bedroom was on the 2nd floor of our house. There were many nights, after I had been put to bed, I would peek out of the small window that was next to my bed and I could watch my Dad and Dave sitting at a picnic table in the back yard, drinking beer from some tall metal cups. They would be out there for hours talking and nursing their beers.
Depending on the time of year, it was still light when I was put to bed. There was a time that I was in bed and I peeked out of the little window. I looked up in the skies and there must have been millions of birds flying in one direction in their migratory pattern. There were so many birds that it would darken the skies. I have never seen a sight like that since then. It was truly amazing.
For Summer vacations, we would pack our bags for our yearly trip to Connecticut to visit relatives. My Dad would go to the Ice House to get a block of ice to put in our large coolers that we would take. My Dad would chip the block of ice up, so that the ice would fit in our coolers. My mother would make all kinds of sandwiches, snacks and get drinks to stock up the coolers.
Back then, going to the drive in theater and going to Dairy Queen was a big thing for us kids. I should mention that I am the middle child.
The business district of Carmel was only about 1/2 - maybe 3/4 of a mile up the road from our house. Back then Carmel was a small town. In Carmel, there used to be a movie theater, barber, drug store, doctors office and a Five and Dime Store. There were many more stores but I can't remember them all. The Five and Dime store was an interesting store. It was on the other side of the train tracks and it had a long large wooden loading dock that faced the train tracks. We would walk up the wooden stairs and onto the dock. This was a large 2-3 story tall wooden building. When you walk in, the first thing that you would see were lots of wooden tables that had wooden slats in it. The slats divided the table top into small sections where they would stack little toys and such, keeping each style separated from the other items. The store was rather dark and damp. At some point in time, a new store came into town...a slot car racing business. I used to go into there and watched in amazement as the older kids and grownups would race these little cars around a large racetrack.
Next to the towns movie theater were 2 homes that I remember. One was owned by Mrs. Nutt and the other by Mr. Hendricks. I don't remember too much about Mrs. Nutt other than my mother would take us there to visit. Mr. Hendricks house was always fun to go to. Mr. Hendricks had a very large concrete fish pond in his back yard. We would go there and just sit and watch his fish swimming around.
For Kindergarten, I went to a little red school house. We had a dog named Brownie during this time period. Brownie was a beagle mix. He was the best dog a kid could ever have. Brownie used to walk with me to kindergarten almost everyday. He would watch me walk into the school house and was there patiently waiting for me after school was over. There was a day when we were having show and tell at this school. Of course Brownie was my show and tell. Someone else brought a horse in..kept the horse behind the school house until it was show and tell time. Although the horse stole the show, I proudly presented Brownie to my classmates, with him jumping about and his tail wagging. Sadly Brownie got hit by a car many years later. Brownie was never the same after that and my parents had to put him down. Even after all of these years, I still have fond memories of Brownie.
My mother used to take us to town once in a while. It wasn't too long of a walk. What I remember most was that if we were good, she would take us into the drug store where they had one of those soda fountain set ups that they had years ago. If we were good, we used to get a bag of chips and a coca cola. I had a strange way of eating the chips. I would put a chip in my mouth and then take a sip of cola. The cola would get the chip to fizz up a little. I know...what a strange little kid I was.
One time when I was riding either my trike or bike with training wheels(can't remember exactly), I fell off of the trike and got a rock caught in my knee. The rock went far enough in to hit my kneecap. The rock popped out and it left a hole in my knee. My Dad took me to the local doctor. The doctor sutured me up without the aid of any Novocaine or numbing agent. I remember screaming while the doctor took his little hook with the string attached and started sewing my knee up.
I am sure that we all have certain things that stay firmly affixed in our memory banks and this is one that I have.
My brother went to summer day camp one year. I thought that was really great. I was hoping that I would get the chance to go when I got a little bigger but it never happen. Life sure can be hard on a young kid.
When my brother and I were in elementary school we were volunteered to sing a duet for the PTA and we ended up singing a bicycle built for two. That was my first and last experience at singing in front of a crowd.
A couple of years ago, Veronica and I returned to Carmel...at least the old portion of town. Main Street was mainly empty with very few stores doing business there. I also got a chance to see our old house. Of course everything looked a lot different but after all of these years, I still could pick out specific buildings in town, locations where buildings used to be but were now gone (the little red schoolhouse). Our old house was still there. Returning and seeing Carmel again brought back many memories. It was as if time had never passed and like I was still living there....except in reality, it was literally a lifetime ago.