Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Slower and simpler times

The Captain and I were sitting around this morning talking about slower and simpler times when we were younger.  It was a different world that in retrospect, was so different it feels foreign or like a dream, as if it never happened.  But it did and it was a wonderful time to grow up.  Thinking of those days takes me back, feeling like a little girl again.

My fondest memories come from family getting together on Thursday nights for spaghetti and meatballs.  My aunt, uncle and cousins would come over without fail.  We didn't even think about doing anything else.  It is what was. So was the menu . . . it never changed.  Thursdays were special.  The family was never closer.

My nana (who lived with us) would start cooking in the morning and fill the house with the aroma of garlic bread and sheet pans of sicilian pizza cooking.  The greatest treat was helping her in the kitchen.  She and I started a tradition where we would make an extra sheet pan of garlic bread so we could "test" it throughout the day as we prepared for the Thursday night festivities.  I wish I could go back at least one more time to cook with my nana for Thursday night dinner. It has been decades since she died at a young age, but I still miss her like crazy and feel she was with me yesterday.

We always had fish on Friday . . . it was a tradition we never deviated from.  To the best of my recollection, it was always grouper, although prepared in different ways.  Living on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico left the fish markets with an abundance of affordable grouper . . . can't say that for today!

Trips to the fish market and the italian deli/meat market was always a treat. It was an atmosphere that I always loved . . . and I always went home with treats from the deli.  My favorite was olive salad!  All the old timers would linger and visit with their friends . . . it made me feel so grown up to be among them.  Why was I in such a hurry to grow up?

Sunday was a repeat of Thursday . . . it just started after noon time and we had all day to spend with our cousins.  Awesome times!

Sometimes I wonder if I would have had so many friends that I rode bikes around the neighborhood with if we had today's technology.  

I always loved having streamers on the handle bars . . . I thought they were so cool.  The sensation of the wind blowing in my face and the streamers riding the wind was such a simple pleasure as crazy as that sounds.  Little things made me happy.  I loved the little bell that made the coolest sound . . . it was my way of saying hello to friends as I passed by their house.

There was a simple joy that had more than one benefit.  I loved roaming the woods across the ditch in the neighborhood that led to a drive in theater that was wide open and you could walk right in.  

First of all, the grounds of the drive in were like a treasure hunt.  We would take pouches so we could fill them with the coins found on the ground.  It is amazing how people would drop their coins coming back from the concession stand and not bother trying to find them in the dark.  You would think that they would learn to put their money away before leaving the concession stand! My piggy bank was always full :)

The woods we had to walk through to get to the drive in had wild blackberry bushes always loaded with the sweetest and juiciest blackberries I have ever tasted.  After loading up with those delicious blackberries, we would take them to my next door neighbor Dot, who was a southern belle and the best country cook ever.  I still make many of the muffins, pound cakes, biscuits and cookies she taught me how to make.  

Anyway, she made us all a blackberry cobbler to take home to our families.  She and her husband were a childless couple who adopted the neighborhood kids as their own and spend a lot of time with us.  We kids loved her and her little bird Perry, who was named after her hero Perry Como.  She and my nana were great friends and I loved when we went to visit with her, just the three of us. They made me feel like I was all grown up like I was one of them.  OMG I miss those special ladies!!

My nana taught me how to play all kinds of card games and we spent lots of time playing cards.  My brother joined us when he was old enough to learn how to play.  Those were special times doing the simplest thing like playing cards!

Times were so different and simple . . . no one was in a hurry.  As a child I spent so much time with adults who were not in a hurry to do anything or go anywhere.  They were happy just being home enjoying each other's company. The kids went from house to house visiting our friends, listening to music and playing board games . . . someone's mom was always home, before the days of most women working away from home, dedicating their time to their children and their friends. 

It was such a special time and we didn't even know it.  Just writing this post brought tears to my eyes . . . they are bittersweet tears of beautiful memories.

Do you have great memories of these simpler times?


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