Monday, June 1, 2015

Shadows of Epoch: 11-20

In his book, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens referred to memories as being "shadows of the past". Okay, so I've never read the book, but the movie uses these words. Thus, a new chapter of my blog. I will be listing 50 (probably more) random childhood memories from my life that may or may not have an significant role in whom I have become as an adult. These are memories that will most likely be short without much detail. It's more of a blog entry for selfish reasons, but hopefully you'll get some enjoyment out of reading them. I'm hoping the more memories I think and write about the more details of my life I will remember. Here's hoping this serves as a catalyst for one of my goals of writing my life story for my daughters and grandchildren. 

Keep checking back...

ELEVEN: Hi-Ho the Derry-O...There are two things I can think of that my dad and I always laughed about. One was the time we were heading to (most likely) Bird-in-Hand to pick up my birthday cake. I want to say I was going to be seven. To get there, as we usually did living in Lancaster, we took back roads through Amish Country. I was sitting in the front seat as we turned left onto Harvest Dr. then a right onto Clearview Rd. and up ahead of us was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. My words, however, will not make it seem so. It truly was a You-had-to-be-there-moment. Deer bolting across roads was pretty common - certainly not rare. Squirrels and geese? Just something you got used to. But a big-mother of a cow darting across the yard? Extremely rare. And hilarious! Don't think so? Well, I'm not done yet. The cow had company. About twenty feet behind the hurtling hooves was an Amish-man...with a pitchfork raised above his shoulders running full speed after it. My dad had obviously stopped the car and we turned to each other and busted up laughing. We laughed about that many times. (Approximate Age: 6-8)

TWELVE: That's okay, Mom. It's only poison ivy...In front of our home in Kinzers stretched the busy Route 30. When pulling off of 30 into our home we would drive on part of another horseshoe-shaped road that eventually took you back out to 30. Along that road right about where it started to make it's bend was our own driveway (or parking space). Before the parking space there was an average-sized tree that my brother and I used to climb. It was right at the end of the hedges that ran the length of our property. There was one branch that wasn't too high up - or at least didn't seem like it from looking at it - that we would hang from. This must have been my first time hanging from it, or at least the first time I noticed the HUGE patch of poison ivy that lay below it. There I was holding on for dear life and realizing the branch is higher off the ground than you think. I suppose it takes a life and death situation to see it for what it really was. "Go get, Mom!" I shouted to Jason. He ran in while I was still dangling, my young muscles fading fast. What seemed like an eternity passed. Are they having coffee together or what?! Hello?! Good grief! Jason finally came out. "She's on the phone with Aunt Cathy." Figures. "Tell her there's poison ivy!" Mom never came out. I happened to survive that dramatic experience. Finally letting go, I fell to the ground - which was maybe two feet down (if rounding up) - into the thinly spread green stuff. It was not poison ivy. But, thanks a lot anyway, Mom! Hope you and Cathy enjoyed your talk. (Approximate Age: 6-9)

THIRTEEN: Punky Power!...I loved watching Punky Brewster. She had that tom-boyish charm that was just too adorable. I loved her cameo on Friends too...she was the girlfriend that liked to punch Joey so he had to wear extra layers around her. Anyway, Punky liked to wear bandannas tied around her jeans. I suppose this was my first experience of Hollywood dictating my so-called style. And this so-called style didn't last but one night. Later Michael J. Fox's character Alex P. Keaton would dictate how I parted my hair and his Marty McFly persona had me putting my hands in my pockets like he did in Back to the Future. Back to evening as the sky began to fade to black, I tied my dad's bandanna's around my jeans. I should have had pajamas on, but i wanted to be like Punky before going to bed. I ran outside with my new look feeling pretty cool My dad was just about to come in from working out in the barn. I remember running through the grape vines and having to come right back in, but those few minutes of coolness were all I needed. Soon thereafter I got in trouble for something and whatever it was it was unrelated to Punky Brewster, but I felt stupid for even doing it. I still have a problem with doing anything different or looking different. I want to shave my head, but just can't bring myself to do it. Makes me wonder. (Approximate Age: 7-9)

FOURTEEN: If only they had DVDs sooner - or the internet for that matter...In the summer of 1991, one of the best movies of the 90s came out. It still has it's merits, and time hasn't been too harsh, but it doesn't hold up like 93s Fugitive does.  Putting aside the fact that the main character, an Englishman, didn't have an English accent - and its other flaws - it's still a decent film. At fifteen things like that don't matter. It's nostalgia that keeps Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as a favorite of sorts. It had it all. Action, adventure, humor and of course love. I literally counted how many times I watched it. I lost track after fifty. Sometime during that coming school year (my sophomore year) - perhaps when the movie hit the shelves on VHS - my friends: Troy, Steve, Josh and Tou Moua decided making our own Robin Hood was a good idea. In fact it was an awesome idea. I'll kill the suspense here. We never made the film. Actually, we never finished the film. We did get some (not so) high-quality shots of the opening scene with such lines as: "He says you stole the bread." "It's a lie. I caught him stealing ours." This dialogue led to a super intense scene of Josh getting his arm cut off. Or maybe it was Steve. I can't remember. I do know Troy was standing up above us on the deck holding an air-bow and arrow (like air-guitar) ready to fend off intruders...or something. The one thing you need to know is what took place behind the scenes before filmming even took place. When I get an idea in my head, I'm 100% in. I wrote the entire script of Robin Hood. That may be misleading. I copied the script of Robin Hood. Every word. By hand. 150 pages. You couldn't say I wasn't dedicated. I sat in my basement with my boom box and recorded the audio of the entire film. Then I got my pencil and notebook. After pushing play and pause, play and pause a million times I had the entire script written and was ready for shooting. The aforementioned scene is all we ever did. Our grand idea was a bust. But still a great memory...the greatest movie that was never made. (Age: 16 and 17)

FIFTEEN: A dam and some diarrhea...Family summer picnics were a blast. It was a time spent down in the meadow of the Brackbill family farm where a tractor-wagon was used to serve a buffet style lunch. Tons of food and fun and pretty much no parent supervision. There were plenty of adults around, but we could pretty much roam wherever we wanted to go. We took boat rides, played Capture the Flag in the barn and had plenty of time for trading baseball cards and playing softball in the alfalfa field. Walks were common, especially up to the dam where the rushing water of the waterfall was both mesmerizing and terrifying. The farmland painted a beautiful scene. Most picnics provided a perfect day of sun and enjoyment. One particular walk wasn't so perfect. It started out fun and adventurous, but then funny things started happening to my digestive system. I knew the feeling. I was about to have my waterfall. Running was my initial response, but running against the wind and running against the powers of bowel pressure are not the same. I couldn't hold it. By the time I had gotten back from the dam to where my dad was playing horseshoes, I had diarrhea running down my legs. He took me up to the barn and hosed me off. On the way home, I remember being wrapped in a towel sitting between Mom and Dad in the front seat of our Lebaron with the AC blowing in my face. (Approximate Age: 7-9)

SIXTEEN: I know you are, but what am I?...I was famous in 4th grade. It was a time in my life where I didn't have inhibitions - not outside the home anyway. I was kind of class clown. Loved getting attention. In 3rd grade I used to walk around like E.T. Hurts my knees just thinking about that now. In fourth grade, I had my moments. Everybody loved me. Maybe not everybody. There was the one girl that screamed, "I love you!" outside on the playground. Bullies, well, the loved to hate me. It was on the bus rides home where I was literally treated like a celebrity. Like Robin Hood years from then, I watched another movie over fifty times. Pee Wee's Big Adventure. I had his laugh down pat and actually had the primary grade kids on the bus thinking I was him. I would do his laugh, maybe say a funny quote and then sign dozens of autographs - as Pee Wee, not Ryan. It was a bright moment among many darker ones in my fourth grade year. Nothing Mr. T cereal couldn't make better. "I pity the fool that don't eat my cereal!" Still, I wonder if it's natural digression from extrovert to introvert. I've only had flashes of that courageous kid since. I think somewhere along the way I realized I was annoying myself more than annoying others. Sometimes I want to walk up to my introverted self and say, "If you don't start being a little more outgoing, I'm gonna send Large Marge after you." (Approximate Age: 9-10)

SEVENTEEN: When being paid in baseball cards was better than being paid in cash...Providing a plethora of scenic views all year round, the woods surrounding us always had our home at Shady Hill immersed into the beauty of nature. It's a little hill off of Route 896 about four miles west of Strasburg. Little now, but when I was younger it was like a gigantic ramp that seemed like it would launch you into the sky. Driving up the hill was like leaving an ordinary world behind while driving down it was like entering a whole new one that was all ours. In the fall the forest of trees were painted perfectly with reds and oranges while winter covered the majestic trees with white. Spring-time meant the daffodils and columbine would sprout and soon the butterfly bushes and azaleas would bloom once again. By mid-summer everything seemed to be playing its part in beautifying the landscape. Then of course there were the weeds. Going down Shady Hill that led into a cul-de-sac was one of the last areas of our property to be adorned with rhododendrons, chrysanthemums and the aforementioned plants. Before it served as a welcoming committee to our home, it was nothing but rocky soil, briers and trees. It took a lot of work to clear that area and my poor best friend at the time, Troy, even got roped into helping one Saturday. Once it was how we wanted it, it meant lots of weed pulling after that. So in between swimming at the Shirks, playing Wiffle-ball in the cul-de-sac and watching movies, my brother Evan and I would do some yard work. One night our dad told us that he would give us a pack of cards for every ten or twenty weeds we would pull. The next day while he and my brother and Jason were at work, Evan and I excitedly marched up to the top of Shady Hill and got started. We were never so happy to pull weeds...heck, we were never so happy to do work. Period. The visions of many, many baseball cards danced in our heads as we laid out the weeds in piles of ten or twenty. In our minds I think we earned...oh, close to a zillion packs of cards. Funny when dad pulled up in his big red work van with Jason in the passenger seat and handed us just one box of cards - to share - we were...not disappointed at all. After all, it was a brand new box of cards! I want to say '88 Topps or '89 Bowman, but I'm not sure. But one box of cards was all we needed to make a hard day's labor of pulling weeds all worth it. (Approximate Age: 12-14)

EIGHTEEN: A wink and a flower...Growing up we went to church as a family. So many of my relatives were part of the congregation that it was more like a weekly family reunion. This is something that I didn't realize how rare and special it was until later in life. I had two favorite spots to sit in during all my years there. Facing the front of the sanctuary, I either sat on the right side in the second to last pew or up front to the left where the choir loft was perched in front of me. Being part of the choir, this is where my dad sat for many years. When I sat up front - during hymns of songs sung by the choir - he would almost always look at me and give me a little wink. It's just something little that I'll always remember about my dad. He also often collected the offering during the service and when he did he would wear a flower pinned to his lapel which he would later give to me. (Approximate Age: 8-15)

NINETEEN: Let's all go to the movies!...Trips to the movie theater when I was younger were few and far between. My Aunt Cheryl would take my cousin Gayle and I to the movies together for our birthdays since they were only two weeks apart. I want to say she took us to see - re-releases of - Cinderella and Snow White and possibly E.T. The first movie experience that I do remember was 1985. Do you know where I'm going with this? That's right! Back to the Future! My aunt was taking my older brother Jason to the movies and he was allowed to bring a friend. Of all the friends he could have invited, he chose me. Maybe I wasn't his first choice, I don't know. But my big brother chose me! That day I fell in love with movies. I was nine and I think sitting in that theater watching Marty McFly be chased by Libyan nationalist and fire-streaking Doc Brown's Delorean back to 1955 set my imagination ablaze. If I wasn't physically at the edge of my seat, my mind certainly was. I've loved the element of time travel ever since. I don't remember going to any other movies for the next couple of years (if I did I have them written down somewhere). In 1988 my dad took Evan and I to see Who Framed Roger Rabbit? My dad didn't like anything animated, but I remember movies giving me an energy boost. It was like a sugar-rush. I can't really explain it, but I remember sitting in the back of our caravan on the way home acting more animated than I needed to be when dad would accelerate. This type of thing would happen as a teenager too. Movies in the theater and now some movies in general have a unique inspirational effect on me. In 1989 he took us to see Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I'm pretty sure he liked that one. We also saw, just he and I, Dead Poets Society that year.Other movies in the theater with my parents included 1990s horrible (although I thought it was awesome then) Rocky 5. We took along my friend Keith E. In '95 it was Quick and the Dead with my dad. He told me that he liked it, but complained to my mom about it having too much shooting. Something I don't think he ever minded before, but I think his brain tumor was changing him. Nothing wrong with not liking a shoot 'em-up movie, but I think movies were getting more difficult for him to watch. For my mom's birthday, I took her to see What Dreams May Come  in 1998In 2000, Angie and I went with both my mom and dad to see What Lies Beneath. Beginning in the 90s I began seeing tons of movies thanks to Kendig Square. I would often take my youngest brother Ehren. Can't beat a buck fifty. That's all I remember off the top of my head. I still love movies, but only really good ones. I miss the days when every movie seemed like a really good one. (Approximate Age: 13 - 24)

TWENTY: The Wonder Years...I'm wrapping up my binge-watching of one of the best shows of the 1990s, The Wonder Years. It, along with doing these "shadows of my past", have really made me realize how many Wonder Year situations I have had growing up. I can here Daniel Stern's narration in my head as I think about these I-guess-they're-funny-now moments of my life. It was during middle school and we were all gathered in the MPR (Multi-Purpose Room) to watch The Goonies. I don't know if it was the end of the school year or maybe right before Christmas break, but this was a very rare occasion. Any time we would be gathered for something like this whether an assembly or whatnot, I had one goal and one goal only: to sit with whatever girl I currently had a crush on. When we were watching The Goonies, LB was my current Winnie Cooper so to speak. Apparently God wanted me to sit with her that day and it was the greatest 114 minutes of my school year. We didn't hold hands because I don't think at the time we were "going together". But we did play footsie. Or at least I thought we were. Between her and I was a metal table-leg... Apparently the reason God wanted me to sit next to her was to show me He has quite the sense of humor. Situations like that were not the best at building a young teenage boy's confidence when dealing with the opposite sex.

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