We had all kinds of rude sayings when we were kids, back there in the hometown which I say with honesty has never left the inner places of my heart. And I believe we have souls and you can add my soul to the places where all those visions and remembrances and goof sayings and stuff we did and all those salt-water swims at this beach community or that one, oh, there were so many, and we had forests there and there were times when some of us would hike through and probably some of those times we’d say those goofy sayings, which is what kids did and do and they were meant as connectors and blood brother and sisterhood and you could not find a lick of meanness in them ever,
Even if you would take a look through different eyes nowadays and maybe scrunch down a little, this physical grimace and a sweet silent little “ouch” and you know in your heart of hearts that it wasn’t mean and it was a joining and a togetherness and – Yeah, today I probably don’t say what I said sometimes through my life but I’m feeling that’s part of the deal, this dance we have had with ourselves where we pull the big mirror, maybe it’s a round one and held upright with beautifully grained hard wood, and I might even break out the old Windex and a couple of paper towels and spiff it genuinely glass-like and here it is and all through life it’s there to stop by and judge, how was I how am I what’s the goal, do I travel even in my own back yard am I a shepherd am I a nomad, better yet like when we were kids and we watched movies about gypsies so I can look in the mirror and say heck yeah, that right there is a gypsy and I feel alright that is who and what I am and have been and always was, and see even that word has connotations which have come up over the years and I don’t blame them and I won’t talk anyone out of feeling that way and still – both in the mirror and in my heart – that whenever I talked about gypsies or watched black and white movies about gypsies which was fun and entrancing and enchanting and even a swish of scary (in a good way, the good way of having those old movies like The Wolfman and The Mummy and even some of the guy from Highway To Heaven being a wolf in one of those movies), man, that was good, clean fun…..
And it doesn’t, at least to me sitting here this morning on the laptop in the coffee shop kind of a café with the best pancakes this side of the solar system and the coffee is sweet and hot and sharp too, and I think it was good to have that childhood and to watch movies people would make fun of today – us being all scientifically and technically tricked out – and sitting on summertime bleachers, like when the hometown offered a “summer camp” free of charge which wasn’t really “camp’ like going somewhere like you see in lots of kid movies – an example would be “Parent Trap” – but this was they had some counselors and some athletic equipment and you had to bring your own lunch in a bag if you were staying a long time and one cool thing I can remember is we would take a jackknife, a simple plain old jackknife with a black handle and only like two blades and we would set it in the wood of the bleacher benches and put our finger in the meeting place of the blade and handle which was pretty much at a right angle and flip it up in the air and see which way it came down and stuck back into the pretty soft wood – and this would be a younger me image, wondering out loud how many butts had sat on these benches to make them soft – and depending upon the way the knife fell back to the wood and stuck in would determine if the flipper had hit a single, a double, a triple or a homerun, and possibly if you are younger and reading this you might be thinking that sounds pretty stupid but I could quote you the line you definitely know which says “You had to be there” and maybe I will because it is probably real and true and valid in this instance, but that’s not all of it…..
I am talking about a game Bruce and Butchie and Jeff and Donnie and others and me would play and usually in the covered bleachers behind home plate of the high school field which also at times the American Legion teams would use it, and I won’t say this is best of all because there was something so clean and pure about high school baseball, but my hometown was way lucky enough to have an actual team every single year I was growing up that was a member of the Cape Cod Baseball League, which is if you care about baseball it is likely you know that the CCBL is one of the best in the whole country and you would be amazed if you went through the playing histories of everyone who plays and has played in Major League baseball, how many of them played on one of the Cape Cod teams, and actually a fun tidbit of information is my hometown was not on the actual land of Cape Cod (map shows) , we were on the “mainland” side of the Cape Cod Canal, and in fact my hometown was officially designated with signs when you entered as “the Gateway to Cape Cod”, which unless you were rolling down Route 3 over in Plymouth that was a geographical truth, we were the only team off the cape,
And I did not plan on talking about this but if I go sit on the floor in front of that mirror right now and become fairly meditative the truth pops out that where we walked in lines and gathered in circles and sat on each other’s porches (we didn’t have one) or front steps (we did) or on the grass in yards and sat there and said those goofy jingles and collections of words and stuff like that it is pretty much exactly the same as walking through the woods like (in our minds) great explorers like Ponce de Leon or de Gama or those guys we heard about when paying any attention in ‘History’ and the same as swimming at the beaches and riding our bikes to them and the same as playing the jackknife baseball game and taking peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of the crumpled-up brown paper bags and something to drink but not milk which would have gone bad in the summer heat if you got there at 10 in the morning and grabbed your lunch at noon, so ditto for no candy bars but maybe some of those Little Debbie cakes or even a Ring Ding if you didn’t mind smearing chocolate frosting – subject to melting with the temp – all over your fingers and if it was your mother making your lunch and packing it (like nearly always) hopefully she remembered to put a bunch of napkins in –
And this makes me think we were not worried about running out of paper then or trees – heck, we were walking through forests weren’t we? Right here in our own little town and in ‘Geography’ we knew from maps and conversations there were huge forests all over the States, and we also weren’t thinking about recycling, which was a word back then but more on a bigger industrial kind of level, no one had a yellow or blue plastic bin for that stuff, my point is that it was a good clean life back being a kid in the hometown and if we said some dumb stuff (and I’m not talking racist or bullying or like that, we didn’t say that, we were lucky and cool enough to hang around with all kinds of kids) but just regular old kid dumb stuff it was all pretty cool.
And nowadays, when I look in that mirror, I always wink at myself and say, damn boy, you sure have been blessed a long time.