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As I get older – or maybe as I grow mellow – the bad stuff that happened during my childhood just doesn’t seem worth recalling.But it did happen, like when I occasionally got my britches dusted.And at one time, I figured I owned the world record for sitting through lectures while staring down at my shoe tops.Having sisters and brothers pays off. It seems that everybody I knew had a couple of brothers and sisters as an added layer of insulation during troubling times.I wasn’t as lucky. At our house, there was only one and that one turned out to be a boy. Shucks, I was a child living in an adult world. Even worse, most of the time they expected me to behave like one.While I didn’t have the good fortune to have any siblings, I was lucky enough to have a rather vivid imagination.You know, the kind that transforms staircases into Corsairs that strafe German encampments along the Catawba River and craft refrigerator cartons into pirate ships that sail the Seven Seas.I believe the good Lord gives the best imaginations to those of us who were an only child. If not, how in the world did I survive so long?But things were picking up.I blamed my occasional visits to the woodshed on hard times. The horrid Depression was winding down and World War II was winding up. Both events had all of our folks in knots.During the Depression, folks learned to do without. When the war started, folks learned to do without in another way.All kinds of things were happening and we young boys and girls sorta soaked it all up.We had fun, but we stayed busy, too.There were old food cans that needed collecting and flattening down.We scrounged around for scrap metal, paper and rubber. Despite my still active imagination, I just can’t picture any of my great-grandchildren saving an empty toothpaste tube and turning it in for a new one.I can’t imagine them walking most places, either, which made half soles and Cat Paw rubber replacement heels the norm.I didn’t have much choice other than walking; gasoline required rationing stamps and the prized Sears & Roebuck bicycle I longed for (and was supposed to be delivered in December 1941) fell prey to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.Sugar, Hershey bars and silk stockings were as valuable as gold.Young men had traded in their football uniforms and helmets for those of a different kind. They were dodging bombs and bullets in Europe or the Pacific instead of linebackers.So much was going on.Thank goodness for the cowboy movies at the old Imperial picture show that allowed us to slip away from reality for a few of hours.Lucky for us, the neighborhood boys replayed the events of Saturday morning serials all week long, especially when school was out for the summer.When a boy had a lot of time on his hands, the old imagination kicked into gear. I built – not always by myself – club houses, hideouts and my favorites, tanks, airplanes and a submarine of sorts.These days, that would be practically impossible; a young boy can’t find a decent refrigerator carton in this whole town.The boxes have disappeared right along with the baseball-field sized yards we played in.There’s no “woods out back” to go play in, either. No wonder kids get into trouble trying to find something to do.Even if you wanted to walk down to the Depot to watch overall-wearing conductors piloting L&C steam engines move a yard full of freight cars around, you couldn’t do it. That Railway Express Agency pulled out years ago and I think it took most of the downtown business district right along with it.Now, there’s not very much of a Main Street to walk to on Saturday afternoons and nights, where everybody talks politics or shops in stores that stayed open until 10 o’clock at night.Once Mama had stocked up and Daddy was all-talked out, we picked up a bag of hot dogs from Lingle’s Lunch in the old streetcar and headed home.It was late, but we had fun. And no matter what time we got into bed, we didn’t miss our Sunday School walk to church the next morning.Nowadays, some folks say we lived in a simpler time.However, I beg to differ. The times were trying and tough, but we didn’t let them get the best of us.Maybe we were closer and more united as a people. We cared for our friends and neighbors.We were rich. And it didn’t require very much imagination to see that.