Loretta's Countdown to 60

Aging on my terms - Daily musings in 500 words or so

Tag: growing up

You’d Think Boys Would Know How to Hunt

This last weekend I shared a post about a hike up El Toro with My John. I mentioned he grew up at the base of that hill and had many escapades to share. Here is an abridged column he wrote that I think you’ll enjoy.

top of El Toro

“You’d think boys would know how to hunt” by John P. Gavin

Who has read the book Lord of the Flies?

When I was in school it was pretty much required reading. It was written in the 50’s by William Golding and is the story of a group of young boys marooned, without grownups, on an island somewhere.

In the book the boys quickly revert to a feral state and run about howling, fighting and wielding crudely made weapons. I remember reading it in class and thinking “what’s the big deal? That’s no different from my neighborhood”.

Not to knock Mr. Golding but the boys in my old neighborhood did not require an island without grownups in order to channel our wild side. All we needed were the orchards and forests at the edge of town – and a little imagination.

My neighborhood was bordered to the west by a small mountain that had been named El Toro by the Spaniards who discovered it (under the feet of the Chitactac Indians who were already living on it). To the north of us was a large walnut orchard that also bordered El Toro.

We virtually lived on that mountain – we knew all the big trees, open spaces and trails. One particular trail we knew of was travelled by a herd of deer that used it to get down to the orchard. They would then pass through the orchard to drink from the pond that lay beyond.

We were familiar not only with the trail, but also with the time of evening the deer would come down it. In our grubby hands this was dangerous knowledge. I still remember the summer day we sat in Dave Mead’s garage talking about what our next adventure (the word ‘mayhem’ would work equally well) would be when one of the guys blurted out “Let’s hunt the deer in the orchard!”

To us an idea like that one did not require any discussion further than working out the details.

My little brother Brian asked, “What will we hunt them with?”

Someone shouted “Spears!”

Dave’s brother Richard wondered aloud “Where do we get spears?”

My response was “We make them”.

“Out of what?” Patrick Black asked.

“Knives tied to broom handles,” I said.

Brian wanted to know “When do we get the deer – on their way down the orchard or back through it?” On their way back from the pond we decided – figuring they’d be less wary on their second trip through the walnut trees.

And so we set off to our respective homes to steal knives out of drawers and cut handles off of brooms. The plan was to meet at the edge of the orchard about the time the herd of deer would pass through on their way to the pond, and then quietly filter in among the trees so as to be in place when they made their return trip.

To this day I still remember shouting, “Get ‘em!” as the deer made their way back toward El Toro. Out jumped five running, shouting, spear wielding boys; and as the terrified deer spotted us they all bolted in unison. I launched my spear, as did the others, hoping it would fly true and hit its mark – a big deer charging past me.

I didn’t hit my target that day in the orchard. None of us did. Heck, we were little kids with kitchen knives tied to broom handles – what damage were we really going to do? I think all we accomplished was scaring the daylights out of a bunch of deer – well maybe that and the realization all we truly wanted to do was follow them around.

When better might not be better – growing up in the 2000’s

Last week I shared a little about how I grew up and how I raised my boys. I even touched briefly on the next generation, my granddaughters.

Then I got busy on Wednesday helping my oldest son, and on Thursday, John and I were back on the road. We took some major twisty roads over to the Oregon Coast and then drove to Sacramento.

Often times, when John is driving, I’ll use that opportunity to pull out my laptop and write. But curves and twisting roads make that impossible for me.

So I was itching to get back to my laptop and write the third installment of my posts about growing up. I got my computer out while John drove us home on Friday, and wrote and rewrote a post to share.

And I agonized over it. 

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Growing up outside – Passing it down

Yesterday I wrote about growing up in Michigan and how we spent most of our time outside.

I also mentioned because of that experience, I wanted to be sure my kids had the same opportunity.

When I got pregnant with our first son, my husband was still in school. We lived in a townhouse near campus and it was fine. By the time our boy was six months old, we’d moved back to Oregon and found a rental in town.

It wasn’t until after our second son was born that I started to remember my own childhood, and what it was like to grow up on a farm. I had married a city boy, and I wasn’t sure he would want to move into the country.

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Growing up outside

We played outside when I was a kid growing up in Michigan. It didn’t matter if it was winter or summer, we were outside most of the time.

In the summers we would play hide-and-seek until way after dark. There were a bunch of us and so many different places to hide that the game would go on for hours.

We also had a sandbox to play and dig in, though I do remember the cats liked “digging” in it too…which was a little gross.

We found things to do and explored beyond our farm too. 

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The evolution of Motherhood

I remember from the time I was little the only thing I really wanted to be when I grew up was a Mom. Not very “progressive”, I know, but it’s the truth.

We were very poor growing up and rarely had any new toys. Instead they were passed down from one child to the next.

The neighbor girls I tried to hang out with had Barbie Dolls that came with different outfits you could dress them in.

I had one doll, and she wasn’t a petite little doll, but more of an old-fashioned Dolly with eyes that would close when you laid her down. And with one arm missing.  Continue reading

How to Mom

We learn how to be women from our moms, or at least a mother figure.

So we watch them closely and subconsciously put each act or word into columns of either, “This is good advice to live by and pass on,” or “No way do I believe this and I am so not going to do this to my kids.”

There are probably a lot of other columns too, but those two stand out the most for me.

I learned how to be a woman by watching my mom. Which is probably why I’m not a girly girl. She didn’t wear makeup or dress in pretty clothes. And she lived in “practical shoes” and flip-flops.

I think she made most of her dresses. You’ll recall I said she only wore dresses, even as a farm-woman, right? I have to wonder if her mom wore dresses too. But I can’t recall much about my grandmother.

My mom learned how to be a woman from her mother too. It’s passed down from one generation to the next with varying degrees of changes for each of us.  Continue reading

Filling in the blanks

Do you ever wonder what it was like for your parents when they were kids? I don’t think about my dad’s youth as much as I do my mom’s. That’s probably because she was the rule-maker of our home.

And the enforcer too.

When I was a kid, I didn’t think about or care what made her the way she was, I was more concerned with ducking her flip-flop as she tried to swat me with it for not doing what I was told.

But as an adult, I have to wonder what it was like for her growing up in that little farmhouse in Michigan with four brothers and three sisters.

She was born in the spring of 1924, unless you go by what her headstone reads. Not sure how that happened, but it’s off by a year. She was the second child of eight, in a home that would soon be crowded.  Continue reading

Did you go on vacations growing up?

Growing up in a small town in Michigan, we didn’t go on vacation as a family. I don’t remember one single time we vacationed anywhere. I don’t even recall my parents leaving us kids home so they could go.

Summers were for working, either on our farm or in the cherry orchards.

We all worked together to bring enough income in for the year. And when we weren’t picking cherries, my dad had us working on our farm helping tend to the crops or raise our farm animals. Continue reading

Finding Home

The best thing about moving is you get to start over. No one knows you or your history. There’s no long-established notion of who you are.

That’s how I felt at 19 in Bend, Oregon. I was determined to make a fresh start. Growing up in a small town in the Midwest was a little bit like growing up in a fish bowl. It’s not that all 2,000 of us knew each other; it’s more that it just felt that way.

Bend was two thousand miles away, away from my old life, and away from being the poor farm kid. With a staggering population of 15,000 people, for me it felt like a big city, and it was love at first sight.

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