Tag Archives: my childhood

Memory Lane: Running Boards

See the source image

When I was a little boy, there were still cars with running boards. In the photo, that’s the wood-colored board between the front and back fenders and below the door. The man across the street from us had a car with running boards, although he soon replaced it with a newer model that didn’t have them. And of course a lot of the cars I saw on TV had running boards–some with riders standing on them. That’s how I knew what they were for.

Today some SUVs have running boards, but their purpose is to help you climb into the car.  The original running boards were for extra passengers.

If your imagination is up to the challenge, you can give yourself quite a good case of the horrors by imagining yourself perched on a running board and clinging to the car door for dear life as it barrels down the Garden State Parkway at 70 mph. That will also help you to understand why no one does this anymore.

I don’t remember anyone actually riding on Mr. Rankin’s running board, so the custom had probably already gone out of use. But if they ever needed to transport eight cops in a four-seater squad car, that was went the running boards came into their own–on small-screen TV, in glorious black and white.


Memory Lane: Goofy Stories

See the source image

I grew up in a large family, and as the first of the grandchildren, I got a lot of attention. It was all loving attention, but some of it was a little bit odd.

I’m thinking of certain things that certain adults told me that turned out to be quite untrue. For instance, Grammy (my daddy’s mother) told me never to swallow chewing gum because, if I did, a gum tree would grow inside me. I can’t say I believed that; but I did stop swallowing chewing gum.

When I went to kindergarten, I was upset at being away from home, so I cried. This encouraged the other kids to pick on me mercilessly, to make me cry some more, for their amusement–good old public schooling!–but Grandma (my mommy’s mother) had a solution. Watching the news on her small-screen TV, with me sitting on the floor by her feet, she pointed at the screen and said, “See that man? He’s never cried in all his life. And now he’s on television!” I forget which newscaster that was–it’ll come to me at 2 a.m. tonight.

Now, why did Grandma say that? Obviously I already had no chance to match the newsman’s level of stoicism, I’d already blown that. Even at five years old, I found that story a little hard to believe.

My grandmothers told me those weird stories for my good, because they loved me. It just seems, in retrospect, a funny way to show it.

How about you? Did you ever get any curious stories like that? If it’s not too embarrassing, please share! I’d hate to think I was the only one.


A Lesson for Puppies

I can sympathize with these little puppies and their aversion to tackling stairs for the first time. It reminds me of my first time on a bicycle without training wheels.

No problem, my father was going to hold on to the back and push, all I’d have to do was pedal. I did that, and got going pretty fast. But I still hadn’t quite gotten the hang of steering, and soon a hazard loomed before me: The Ruts. That was just a little bumpy area where the playground met the end of our street, but my mother, for no reason I will ever understand, had told me that The Ruts were too hard even for the big kids. Why in the world did she tell me that?

Anyhow, I was headed straight for The Ruts, so I turned around to tell my father to stop the bike ’cause I didn’t know how, The Ruts are comin’–and he wasn’t there! He’d let go some minutes ago, and was standing some distance away with his hands on his hips, all smiles because his little boy could ride a bike. Only when the little boy discovered that, the little boy went down like a ton of bricks! Fap!

Pups, I feel your pain.


By Request, ‘Silver Bells’

This isn’t really a Christmas hymn, but Erlene requested it, and besides, it brings back fond memories to me. We sang this in our seventh-grade Christmas concert. Mr. Held’s entire home room, including me, was drafted into the choir. I was in the back row with all the other kids who couldn’t sing–but never mind, it was fun: and there was no one there to complain about it.

Fun fact: Did you know one of Burl Ives’ middle names was Ivanhoe? Cool!


A Christmas Memory

This, one of my very earliest memories, came rushing back to me this morning as I drove to the Woodbridge Mall.

I was a little tiny boy, cuddled up on the couch with my Uncle Bernie, in my Grammy’s living room, complete with Christmas tree, and with It Came Upon a Midnight Clear playing somewhere in the background, probably on the radio; and Bernie was reading to me from a book of Christmas stories. When he finished, he turned on the TV set and we watched A Christmas Carol–the old one, with Reginald Owen as Scrooge–on the tiny black-and-white screen. I was too young to understand the movie, although my uncle did help me to see it was a story about a bad man who changed, and became good. I do remember Scrooge in his nightshirt meeting the Ghost of Christmas Past.

And this memory brings tears to my eyes, because everything about it was just so good, so right: but my uncle and my Grammy, they’ve long since passed on and their house is a place I can’t go to anymore, long for it as I may. And to this day I love A Christmas Carol, and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. I even remember some of the pictures in the book, of angels singing.

So much beauty, so much blessing. God knew what He was doing when he gave us Christmas.

(Video sung by St. Peter’s Choir)


‘Late Night TV, Circa 1958’ (2013)

See the source image

I can pronounce it now, but I still don’t understand it.

Now they’ve got 150-some channels instead of just three or four, and yet it doesn’t seem there’s half as much on as there used to be.

Oh, those old TV listings! Endless fascination for a 10-year-old who was packed off to bed at 8 o’clock.

https://leeduigon.com/2013/08/25/late-night-tv-circa-1958/

Well, this is a blog for sharing memories, isn’t it? I’d love to hear some of yours.


‘Memory Lane: My Erector Set’

See the source image

There used to be a lot of toys like this–toys that got you to use your imagination: and your hands, too. Among the greatest of these was the erector set.

https://leeduigon.com/2016/12/18/memory-lane-my-erector-set/

With these toys, you start with just a bunch of parts that don’t look like anything, and with your hands and your brain, you turn them into something. What could be cooler than that?

All of the kids in my family got their start on my aunts’ erector set that they had when they were kids. I’m happy to say my brother still has ours.


Memory Lane: Electric Baseball

See the source image

My brother and I got this toy for Christmas once, sometime in the Fabulous Fifties: Tudor Electric Baseball.

The ball was a tiny white magnet which you “pitched” with a kind of catapult, aiming for a tin sheet representing the batter. Behind the sheet sat your opponent, who, when he heard the ball stick to the other side of the screen, smacked his side with a spring-operated plastic bat. If the ball landed on a circle marked “hit,” he flicked a switch and these little plastic guys with strips of celluloid on their bases ran around the basepaths, accompanied by a loud buzzing sound as the whole gameboard vibrated energetically. The basepaths were thick cardboard guides. Without them, the runners would have dashed all over the place in a kind of brownian movement.

If this sounds complicated, that’s only because it really was complicated.

Our friend “thewhiterabbit” had an Electric Football game. He soon gave up trying to make any sense of it.

Colorforms Baseball, which we also tried, had no electricity–only a dial on a spinner which, when spun, would stop either on an out or some kind of hit.

I have a feeling this toy cost my parents a fair amount of money. We dutifully played it until the day we somehow lost the ball. It was a very noisy game, and lots of times you’d smack the tin sheet and the ball would just fall off and you’d have to have a do-over. Or sometimes you’d smack it and the ball would just stick there.

But it’s the thought that counts!


Memory Lane: The Remco Bulldog Tank

This toy was a hot item in 1960, and my brother, then eight years old, got one for Christmas: Remco’s Bulldog Tank. Battery-powered, its mighty caterpillar treads would take the tank up and down steep hills of my mother’s books, all the while making a not entirely hopeful wheezing noise. Our family’s home movies show it doing that while my brother watches in angelic rapture.

Best of all, it shot! Boom! Well, not “boom,” really. It went “click.” It fired these plastic projectiles and ejected brass shell casings. Y’know something? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tank in a war movie eject a shell casing. But they must have, right? I mean, you can’t have the turret filling up with shell casings.

I wonder if they still make toys like this for kids–or do they try to make out like there’s no more war, we don’t need tanks to protect us from the bad guys anymore? Meanwhile, the same children deemed too emotionally fragile for a Bulldog Tank spend hours every day playing Zombie Massacre video games. Go figure.


Bonus Video: Fli-Back!

Wow! Remember these? Wooden paddle (usually with a picture of a cowboy on a bucking bronco), rubber ball, and rubber band–the classic Fli-Back toy. How many times could you hit the ball up and down before you lost control?

My Grandma bought me many a Fli-Back when I was a boy, but I never got the hang of it until much later in life. Maybe the lady in this video can say the same. I still have a Fli-Back in one of the kitchen drawers somewhere, although I think the cats batted the ball out to that place from which no little rubber ball returns.


%d bloggers like this: