Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Memories of childhood

I was recently reading a discussion about what people remembered from the hard times from the oil shocks in the 70's. Being that I was a small child (only 11 by '79), I find that I don't remember much. What I do remember is worth thinking about though.

In the mid-seventies, we were living in a small town north of Boston. My mom found her 'dream' house, so we moved from a suburban neighborhood home where my parents had added an addition with their own two hands (I actually remember some of this), to a big OLD house on a farm in a different town. The house was over 200 years old, very, very big (20+ rooms), and was originally part of a 75 acre estate/farm. We purchased just the house and 6 acres immediately surrounding the house. The remaining 69 acres must have remained in some estate or trust fund as no one ever developed it while we were living there. There was a 'caretakers' house on the other property and an old man and his wife lived there. All I remember about them was that their mutt dog 'Sargent' (who we called 'dummy') got our dog Daisy pregnant with puppies. I saw it happening, and I came running to tell my mom that 'dummy' was attacking Daisy!

Anyway, when we lived there, my parents had to upgrade the heat system from a big old central furnace (with grates in the floor at the center of the house to allow the heat to rise) to a regular oil burner with baseboard units. They also had the tennis court resurfaced and fenced in so that we could use it. My mom promised my brother and I that we would get baby chicks for Easter as a 'bribe' to convince us to go to this new house willingly. She also had plans to get a burrow at some point. Funny thing is, we never got either the chickens or the burrow. I remember my mom making strawberry jam at one point because I recall my brother getting into trouble for moving one of the containers before it had set. Of course, he wasn't the reason none of it never set up, but we still blamed him for it! My mom also tilled a patch of land in one of the fields (it was dwarfed by the rest of the field!) and planted corn and other items. I remember her complaining that the crows ate her corn - often right out of the ground before it had sprouted. I also remember growing strawberries in the flower gardens - and the rabbits ate the berries before we could. When we lived in that house, my mom bought a moped. I think she rode it pretty often. Was that for fun, or to save gas?

I think back and wonder if any of this was done to be more 'sustainable' weather the bad times and to supplement our food. As kids, it was all just an adventure to us. Did my parents protect us from the worst of it? Or, did they not really feel it either?

I mean, would we have refinished the tennis court if money was tight? I remember my parents throwing big Christmas gala's. I remember when we bought our first microwave! My Dad did an awful lot of travel with work (he was gone when the roof partially collapsed and when the puppies got out and spread white paint all over the house). I remember having plenty of toys (most of them new) and I don't remember ever being hungry. How much did they sacrifice? Or did they?

And what really got me much of what they did is the same as what my H and I are doing now? I really see a LOT of parallels. I find it interesting.

Anyway...last night I packed another 7 or so boxes. Pretty much everything but our daily toiletries and our kitchen is packed up. The chicks did not arrive yesterday, so H is at the house again today in case they get here. He biked there today, and said it was a good ride. Took him a little over an hour, so once we get into shape, we should be able to do our commute in an hour. That's good..because that's better than I was expecting! I'll be meeting him there tonight and my goal is to get the last coat of paint up in the kitchen. I may prep the laundry room too...but more important may be to do some organizing and cleaning in preparation for moving in on Saturday. We are both taking Friday off. I'll probably spend that whole day packing, but if I can get it done quickly, I can spend a little time at the house then, too.

If we make it through this weekend AND manage to get everything done, I'll be amazed!

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