Saturday, January 13

Saturday's Old Photo

I'm sure I don't need to tell you who this little person is, but I will anyway. This is me when I was around 18 months old. This photo was taken by a photographer for the yearbook at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee. My dad was a student there (Do you remember the back story to his student years at Bryan?), and this picture was for the photo spread on Trailerville, the married student housing at that time. I'm not certain this one made it into the yearbook. There is one of me that did, but I don't remember seeing this picture there.

The married students attending Bryan back in the 1950s lived in little trailers in what was known as Trailerville; and Trailerville was my home for the first two years of my life. Most of the trailers would have been the size of our travel trailers, and none of them had bathrooms. Instead, there was a communal shower house and a communal laundry. There was no air conditioning, either, and the trailers became like ovens in the heat, so the families who lived there, particularly the women and children, spent much of the time outdoors where it was cooler, chatting and watching the children play.

You'll notice I'm playing with a slinky, which I suppose was the latest thing back then. That I have a slinkly rather than a stuffed animal tells you a bit about what kind of toys I liked. You could go through all my old family photos and you'd not find a single one of me with a doll. I did have a doll--one with outfits my grandma and mother made for her--but she wasn't played with much. I tried to play with her, but after a few minutes I'd begin to wonder what the point was. I preferred cars and trucks and building blocks--things you could use to do something or make something.

When I was in junior high I mentioned to my parents that I remembered how much I'd loved playing my toy 7-up truck--the one with the little pop crates that could be loaded in the back.

"Seven-up truck?" they said. "You didn't have a 7-up truck." It turns out that my first toy memory is of a toy that wasn't mine at all, but belonged to a neighbor boy we lived next to for six weeks when I was two.

The favorite toy that I did own (and I guess it wasn't really a toy) was the red wooden recurve bow I got when I was ten. I spent many afternoons roaming the northwoods with the neighbor boy shooting arrows at things that moved. I suppose most present day parents think anyone who would let their ten-year-old out to roam with a potentially dangerous weapon was negligent, but back then, that sort of unsupervision was standard. My friend and I created our own adventures, had some disagreements, got into a few minor scrapes, and learned how to cooperate to make things right again. Problem solving at its best, don't you think?

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