The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.


on June 11, 2012


I have a lousy memory.  The book I’m now reading is likely to be forgotten next week. I don’t  remember the addresses of all the places I’ve lived nor the names of childhood classmates.  I am attentive and take copious notes when attending a lecture but the words float through my mind like wisps of smoke. It embarrasses me to ask my son – who remembers EVERYTHING – when specific events occurred in our family.

There are however a few things I remember quite well. In this poem  it seems I’ve been bitten by a nostalgia bug and remembering those days reminds me of this song as well. Sing along with me.

Those were the days my friend,

We thought they’d never end,

We’d sing and dance forever and a day.

We’d live the life we choose,

We’d fight and never lose,

For we were young and sure to have our way.”

                                    (Artist: Mary Hopkins)


My sister and I spent our first sixteen years

At a small cottage near aWisconsinlake.

What looms large in my memory

Is the freedom we had

Freedom to come and go, from dawn ‘til dusk

With no fear of danger by day or by night.


We ate warm tomatoes from the garden for breakfast.

Stole apples and blueberries from neighbors.

Hung clothes to dry in the sun.

Dug fat night crawlers out of the mud.

Climbed into a sacrosanct rowboat

Where no noise was permitted,

Bamboo fishing poles in hand.


Early each day we left for the beach.

Spent days with minnows swirling round our feet,

Ducklings trailed us as we swam out to a raft,

Turtles sunned on the banks of the lake,

Profuse with sweet-smelling water lilies.


We used baby oil mixed with iodine for tans.

Shared one apple among three and nobody died.

Taught swimming to toddlers,

Built thousands of sand castles,

Carved our initials into picnic tables.


A weeping willow tree hung over the water.

We swung from its branches like monkeys.

Dove from a bridge over a channel

Higher than an eight year old should attempt.


We rode rusty Schwinns through the woods

Caught butterflies and fireflies.

Plucked handfuls of wild flowers,

Sought out wild blackberry bushes,

Tracked down rabbit holes,

Learned where the owls hung out.


No computers or cell phones for us.

Our evening entertainment was each other.

Kids gathered and played Red Rover,

Kick-The-Can, Marbles and Pick-Up-Sticks.

Some nights we hiked up a cobbled road

Shared Black Cows at the Dairy Queen.


To escape hordes of  hungry mosquitoes

We gathered on someone’s porch,

Played Monopoly ‘til the banker went broke.

Listened for the tinkling bells

That announced the Good Humor truck.


The loft of a barn  was our sleep-over bedroom

Bales of freshly cut hay our pillows.

There we prayed to be witness to a bull

Breaking loose and mounting a cow.


No one questioned our whereabouts, our activities.

Yet neither of us ever got hurt or got lost.

Found our way home for dinner,

Corn on the cob dripping in butter,

Gabriel Heater and the News in the background.


When the stars appeared

A warm summer’s night sleep beckoned

On a screened porch in a swing

Rocked gently by evening breezes,

The aroma of peonies in the air.


I pined for the last day of school

To again spend three months

With nobody asking:

Where were you?  What did you do?

Where did you go?  Who were you with?

I leave you to draw your own conclusions about what that kind of freedom meant to two little girls from the city and how it affected the women they became.

Post a comment.

Julie Rose


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