Remember When

  • I can swim like an anchor

    Every time, I see a youngster splashing in a swimming pool, I stare at my feet.

    Among the things I never mastered was learning to swim.

    My inability to tread water was a great embarrassment, but I just couldn’t muster up enough gumption to learn.

    In later life, aboard troop ships, I always made it a point to become overly familiar with every lifeboat. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

    You know, I would’ve made a good anchor. For some reason, whenever I jumped into a body of water, I automatically sank to the bottom.

  • I didn't make the cowboy picture

    Somebody a lot smarter than me once said, “Into every life, a little rain must mess everything up.”

    Well, it was pretty close to that, anyhow.

    And for me, things had gotten pretty messed up and the only one to blame it on was me.

    Mama didn’t have a mean bone in her body, but when I crossed her, she made life around here real rough.

    When I came home from school on Friday, I sorta messed around and didn’t get all my chores done.

  • Wagons still get my full attention

    A recent visit to the Amish Farmers’ Market at Mechanicsville, Md., has me looking back. I never grow tired of seeing horses and wagons.

    The sight of them prompted us to stop and buy some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

    Shucks, that means the fresh corn and Georgia cannonball (watermelon) harvest should be arriving any day via wagon.

    You know, there was a time when mule and horse-drawn wagons were  common sights in Lancaster’s business district.

  • Here's to you, Paul Revere

    My memory is decent, but I just register a blank for Independence Day celebrations when I was a youngster.

    What I mostly remember is everybody mentioning that it was hot as the Fourth of July in our classroom at Chesterfield Grammar School a couple of months before the holiday ever rolled around.

    I was up to speed on old Ben Franklin and George Washington. Paul Revere was a real favorite of mine. If anybody  needed to know about him, all they had to do was ask. Funny thing, though, with school out for the summer, nobody ever did.

  • Little Ben can still get me to grin

    Some days, there’s not a whole lot of grandfathering stuff to do. We decided to tour the Maryland countryside with our granddaughter, who was shopping for a home nearer her workplace.

    The cost of real estate in the greater Washington, D.C., area is outrageous. I guess everything is geared to the cost of living for diplomats, public servants, elected representatives and those looking to get elected.

    One lead seemed promising. We saddled up and headed out in search of it like a herd of thirsty horses smelling fresh water from a stream.

  • Heed my fatherly doughnut wisdom

    You know, fathers are always full of sage advice and catchy phrases.

    They gave it to us whether we wanted it or not.

    That comes with being the family patriarch. Just like with Uncle Sam, rank does have its privileges. I’m the one who is enjoying giving the advice, now.

    I heard my dad, the late Major Evans, say more than once, “Son, nothing comes free. There is always a price to pay.”

    That’s as true now as it was 70 years ago. I’ll prove it.

  • The devil knows my weakness

    Mrs. Sam Marks had been teaching us Bible stuff in Sunday school class for a while and I was finally starting to get the hang of some of it.

    Our latest lessons centered on the 10 Commandments. Most of ’em seem to make sense, but I was having a little trouble understanding just what “Thou shalt not covet” meant.

    “It means that we should not wish for things our friends have,” she said.

    Boy, that one was tough to swallow, especially if what you were coveting was a genuine leather cowboy holster set.

  • I'll play with girls when it's raining

    Boy, I didn’t see that one coming. I was downright blindsided by the comment.

    “You act like girls didn’t exist in your long ago ‘Remember when’ times,” a faithful reader said.

    Shucks, there were plenty of girls around when I was growing up, but I still preferred playing with Billy Pipkins.

    No, I didn’t have any sisters. As far as that goes, I was brotherless, too.

    But, that’s OK.

    I had the next worst thing; three girl first cousins.

  • Grinning Tiger likes his okra

    One thought crossed my mind when Mr. Charlie Caskey wheeled that big Ford into our driveway.

    I didn’t know why a police officer was at my house. But if I was involved, I’d probably get it as soon as Daddy gets home.

    Mr. Charlie opened the back door of the sedan and out jumped good old Tiger, my beloved bulldog.

    There was no such thing as a leash law. Nobody needed one, seeing how just about everybody in the neighborhood had a big old dog that ran loose. That’s why Mr. Charlie knew exactly where Tiger lived.

  • I caught a two for one special

    The front yards along Chesterfield Avenue were for show.

    The back yards – where stuff was stacked out of the sight – were by design.

    However, each spring, one portion of our back yards was set aside and marked off for vegetable gardens.

    And it was serious business, too. Babbit and Castello even hoed one in the cartoon that was at the old show.

    President Roosevelt was on the radio encouraging all of us to do our part by investing in a Victory Garden to reduce the pressure on the World War II food supply.