Tuesday, January 20, 2009

24 Of Something

Goody a new project is starting at Wetcanvas. You pick a theme and do 24 things of the theme. I already know what my theme will be. I have had it as an idea I've been kicking around for quite some time. It is memories from my childhood. Probably toys. I have gathered quite a few props. I was going to make a still life with all the things I used to play with when I was young.

Of course as a girl, I always had a lot of dolls. In fact I think I had a collection of about 20 different dolls at one time. My aunt and my mom loved buying them for me. They bought them until I was in 8th grade I think, and that last year I ended up with 4 dolls for Christmas. A bride doll, a 3 year old 3 ft doll, a rag doll my mom made, and a different brand and type adult doll like Barbie.

Other memories I have are playing with modeling clay. My two brothers and I each got a packet of 4 colors at least once a year at Christmas. We would play with that stuff for hours. At first we kept it separated into the colors but eventually it would get all mixed up and end up gray.

I would make little people, furniture, animals, and play house with them. I don't remember what my brothers made with theirs, but they had just as much fun with the clay as I did. Such an inexpensive toy and one that kept us busy for hours and hours and kept our imagination on fire.

I also played jacks and pickup sticks. Since I had no sisters, mom got stuck playing with me. We would play so many different games of jacks. Back then the balls were more rubbery; not like the plastic ones that come with jacks now. The new ones have a seam around them that makes the balls bounce way out of control. I'm sure I learned hand eye coordination and many other useful things from these two toys.

Then there were paper dolls. I would play with them and imagine all kinds of scenarios that they were in. At least as many scenarios as I had in my rather naive head at that time. Times were much more simple and my parents didn't have the money to expose us to the pleasures of dining out, Disneyland, or other "kid" things. Even our vacations were a time for my parents to get their yearly visit with their own parents. No nonsense trips there and back in a week with my dad driving straight thru (one trip a year was to Oklahoma).

Dad would stop along the road and catch a couple hours sleep and my brothers and I slept in the back seat. Mom dozed in the passenger seat. We stopped only long enough to get a loaf of bread, bologna, and something to drink. The Oklahoma trips were 2 days and 2 nights in the car going both ways. Thankfully mom's parents lived in Gridley, CA so that trip was much shorter. We had no idea that this was a normal vacation for everyone else.

Other things I remember from that simple life were penny candy, candy bars were 5 cents, marbles, little boxes that opened to secret openings, Mexican jumping beans, candy cigarettes, The Walt Disney show and Bonanza on Sunday evenings, running thru sprinklers to get cool, homemade "spoon" candy (fudge that didn't set up), homemade cinnamon rolls, homemade dinner rolls (and the wonderful smell), hopscotch, tetherball, a pot of beans cooking all day on the stove, and hurrying to be first to take my bath Sunday night so I would be ready to watch Disney. (Another thing I was unaware of until I was in junior high...that people took baths more than once a week)

It's funny when you grow up you only have your own life as a marker. We were very sheltered. Unlike most kids today, we did not go on sleepovers. My mom controlled when or if we had friends over and very rare that we got to go to someone else's house. My mom was scared to death something would happen to one of us. So we were not privy to what other people's daily life was like. I didn't know we were poor or that other families didn't live just like we did.

What an awakening when I got out in the world. Many embarrassing moments happened because of what I didn't know. In many ways I think that more simple way of life was much better. We depended on each other, we ate what we were given, and were able to occupy our time without all the electronics or always having to have a friend over. But I sure would miss my computer, my dishwasher, and my cell phone.

Thanks for taking my walk down memory lane with me.


Joan said...

You have a lot of ideas to fit into your theme. You mentioned paper dolls. My dad built this huge square table down in our basement for us to play on and do crafts. My 3 sisters and I spent hours designing our own paper dolls and making outfits for them. I think that's where Michelle and I began our love of art. Have fun!

Teresa said...

Reading of your memories reminded me of quite a few of my own. Growing up (in England) we were lucky to live in a new "council" house (the gov built and owned them. You had the option to buy it if you could afford it) that had a bathtub and small sink in one room and toilet in another little room right next to it. No shower. I remember my Mom washing my hair in the kitchen sink (presumably because it was higher and easier for her to reach?) and thinking that she was going to drown me before it was all over! :-)

Us neighborhood kids played cowboys and indians (our young imaginations driven by John Wayne's portrayals of the quintessential cowboy), marbles, conkers, hopscotch, hide and seek, and rode our bicyles, built "dens" and became pirates and all manner of colorful characters. I often feel sorry for today's kids who don't seem to get much chance for lively, imaginative play. Okay, I'm getting down off my soapbox now.............

Jo Castillo said...

Thanks, Jeanne, nice story and wonderful idea for your theme. Paper dolls and jacks were our main entertainment. Designing clothes, so much fun. We also would sit on a huge cardboard box (maybe from a refrigerator) out in the yard and pretend we were lost on the ocean. Just sit there for hours and figure out how to drink salt water, etc.

Good old days for sure!

Robyn said...

Jeanne - I got totally caught up in your wonderful memories and you've reminded me how much I loved paper dolls. Thank you for sharing through this beautiful, candid piece of writing.

Good luck with your project. I'll look forward to the art.

Mithila said...

With such a personal theme as this, are you sure you'll be able to part with your art, Jeanne? Thank you so much for sharing your childhood... I can't wait for the image you'll send me.

It's great reading everyone else's contribution too. Looks like you could start another exchange with this theme.

Barbara Weeks said...

Great theme! Many of your memories are so similar to mine!