When I was a little girl, we lived in out in the country. It was nice living out there, at least from a child's point of view. We had a big yard, a field behind us, and one on either side of us. We also had a ditch near the road where I could put in a stick and go "fishing." We had neighbors across the road, and that was nice...not only did they have a big yard too, but they also had woods behind their house. They also had a daughter my age, and a son that was my brother's age. We became good friends, and Mary was even the maid of honor in our wedding.
Tim, Mary's brother (on the left), Mary, and my younger brother (with the ornery look), in our kitchen. Notice the portable TV in the background.
I missed out on bringing cupcakes to school for my birthday because I was born in July. I never had the opportunity to hear my entire class sing "Happy Birthday" to me, but one summer my parents made up for it by getting me a swing set for my birthday. It came in a HUGE box.
My dad is a wonderful man. He can tell stories better than almost anyone I know. He has a sense of humor and played some good practical jokes on people over the years. He's intelligent too.
However, my dad is NOT handy with tools, and in his mind the idea of trying to put together a swing set was probably right up there with having major surgery without anesthetic. I did not know that way back when, but I eventually learned it over the years.
After an early dinner this particular hot, summer night, people started showing up at our house. I thought we were just having a fun-filled evening with a bunch of people over. Of course, I realized as I got older, that dad was just in dire need of some assistance in completing this project for his favorite daughter.
My grandparents showed up. My Aunt Tillie and Uncle Paul showed up. Mary's parents came over too, as did some other friends.
We had an enclosed porch along the back of our house, and the "women folk" and children stayed in there and watched the entertainment. The MEN were taking all the pieces and parts out of the box and organizing the construction process.
Not too long after the box was opened, the beer began to flow...slowly at first, because they had a goal. But as the evening went on and a little frustration began to set in, the empty beer bottles became more frequent.
My Aunt Tillie brought cookies, but wouldn't let the men have any until the swing set was up, hahaha. Aunt Tillie was a real treat. She tried to give the men a few hints from her perch in the enclosed porch, but they didn't listen to her...poor thing. I still laugh whenever I think about it.
My Uncle Paul and my grandpa were brothers and it was funny to watch them work on a project like that together. My grandpa didn't always say a whole lot, but liked to let his facial expressions speak for him. Uncle Paul, on the other hand, always had an opinion on things.
As the sun began to set, the sky was turning a beautiful shade of red, and my Grandma told me the poem:
Red sky at night,
Red sky at morn,
Sailors take warn.
To this day, I have no idea if they completed the swing set that night or if it needed a little more work the next day. What I enjoyed the most was being around so many people I loved and watching these men work so hard on something for me. That's what family and friends do for one another.
That swing set project is still one of my favorite childhood memories and I think about it often. Several years later we moved over an hour away, and that same swing set made the move with us. My brother and I continued to use it until it pretty much fell apart.
I don't think we know what are favorite childhood things are until we've grown up and looked back, and I definitely know that was one of mine!