Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Shadows of Epoch: 21-30

Updated: July 7, 2015

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...

TWENTY-ONE: A close shave or your money back...Like most boys while growing up, I spent a lot of time observing my dad. More than I can remember. I would observe how he talked with people and also physical features such as his green mustache. It always looked green to me anyway. I remember him having a brown freckle - or maybe it was a very small birthmark - on his thigh that you could see when he wore shorts. He wore size 10s and would also use a black comb to part his hair to the left and he would have a red or blue handkerchief in his back pocket ready for any of us to use at any given time.

I would always give him a hard time about his Missourian accent when he said words like mile and pile making them sound more like mal and pal. For years we would tease him for making chicken noodle soup with crunchy noodles. We never let that one go. He loved the Rolling Stones and loved the Beach Boys even more. I remember being in the bathroom looking at the magazine cover of People with Dennis Wilson on the front who had tragically drowned in 1983.

I probably watched my dad shave hundreds of times, but I particularly remember being in our bathroom in Kinzers - I would often sneak in there at night and mess around in the drawers - when I put some shaving cream on all over my face. I can't say I never touched the razors in there, but I didn't this time. I was a little bit more wiser than that. Using the handle part of my toothbrush I gave myself a nice clean shave. (Approximate Age: 6-9)


TWENTY-TWO: If you give a cat a bus stop...
He'll meet you there every day after school. Following are some short and sweet bus stop memories:

1) Our cat in Kinzers would walk with me to the bus stop and meet me there after school. My very own Hachi. That would have been a great name for it. Her - or his - name was either Happity-Hoppity, Hoppity-Hippity or Hippity-Hoppity. We're just not sure. Loved that cat though.

2) I never wanted to anything differently with my hair. For one, I felt bad telling my grandma that I didn't want her to cut my hair anymore. But mostly it was the fear of doing anything differently. Anyway, before gel, I would wet my bed-head down and I remembering it freezing while waiting for the bus. A weird feeling.

3) I think I was wearing my denim jacket when it pooped on me. One of two times in my entire life that a bird did his business on me.

4) I think it was 9th grade when we got our first computer. My aunt, the computer genius, put some games on there for us. (My mom was not happy about Tapper. It never drove me to drink so all is well.) Monopoly was another. I remember walking up our hill after getting off the bus and saying to Jason that I was going to play it when we got home. Actually, he would have been driving. Maybe I was in 8th grade.

5) Evan and I used to see how many people driving by us would wave if we initiated. Most would I think. Funny to think that if we were to do that now, nobody would wave because they think texting and taking selfies (which is a mental disorder by the way) is more important than safe driving.



TWENTY-THREE: Girls, girls, girls...

In first grade, I took a spelling test with my left hand. I'm right-handed by the way. Kim was sitting to my right...and I was holding her hand. One of the words was "elephant." I spelled it, "elephint." First grade!

In third grade I literally cried myself to sleep over Julie, who had her eyes on Jason in my class. Or maybe Jason liked her.

In fifth grade there was this new kid, Mike. I thought my girlfriend, Heather, liked him. Because of this, I did not like him. Jealousy was something I had problems with all through high school. After going home the day Mike came to our school, I pounded the keys during piano practice. "This Land is Your Land" never sounded so lovely.





TWENTY-FOUR: There was an old woman...

No, I'm not referring to my mom here, but rather the old woman (that would be me) next to her. While I don't remember this picture being taken - or my mom's clown suit - I do remember my costume. This was taken in 1984 at Leacock Presbyterian Church - most likely at a Sunday School Halloween party for the adult classes and their families. What I do remember about this costume is that I wore it to my 3rd grade Halloween party at Salisbury Elementary school where I won the Ugliest Costume. Which was good because I worked an hour on my hair beforehand. What I also realized from this picture are my shoes. Triple Velcro. Ms. Trego, a third-grade teacher (not mine) at the time was where Velcro shoes went to die. She hated the sound they made and even took it upon herself to throw one kid's shoes away. Gulp. Other than the time the 3rd graders watched a movie (most likely Rikki-Tikki-Tavi). I did not dare to adjust my Velcro straps. I didn't have death wish nor did I have a wish to go home in just my socks.


TWENTY-FIVE: Too much TV? Blah!

Here are some TV shows I remember watching (to some extent) while growing up in the 1980s:




  • The Muppet Show
  • The Dukes of Hazzard
  • Knight Rider
  • Voyagers!
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle
  • Underdog
  • Sesame Street
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
  • The A-Team
  • The Little House on the Prairie
  • The Cosby Show
  • Family Ties
  • The Smurfs
  • Punky Brewster
  • Different Strokes
  • Alf
  • Happy Days
  • Leave it to Beaver
  • Father Knows Best
  • Alice
  • Small Wonder
  • The Price is Right
  • Funniest Home Videos
  • Highway to Heaven
  • Who's the Boss?
  • Baywatch
  • Doogie Howser
  • Perfect Strangers
  • Inspector Gadget
  • Amazing Stories
  • Quantum Leap
  • He-Man
  • MacGyver
  • Cheers
  • The Wonder Years
  • Wonder Woman
  • The Incredible Hulk TV movies

TWENTY-SIX: (singing) Six bowls of Kix on the wall, Six bowls of Kix...

This is one of the more random memories I have. It was most likely summer time during my junior high years. A friend, Keith, lived on Belmont, a road often traveled when living at Shady Hill. He was an easy bike ride away - especially going to his home which was all downhill. My best friend Troy lived a bike ride away as well so we decided to meet at Keith's house to shoot some hoops. We probably played for a couple of hours before I headed home. Whatever energy I hadn't exhausted playing basketball, I did so by riding uphill going home. When I reached my house I had that completely empty feeling in my stomach. The one coincides with severe momentary weakness of all muscles. Needing to eat something and fast, I headed for the cereal cabinet. Six bowls later, I not only emptied the Kix cereal box, but was feeling rather stuffed. 


TWENTY-SEVEN: (singing) The phantom of (your cousin) is here... 

It just doesn't have the same ring to it. I remember being in Sunday School sitting with my cousins Dustin and Gary and with my other (first) cousin Gayle. Gayle was sharing how she and her friend Jackie were going down to the cabin - in the meadow of the Brackbill-family farm). Upon hearing this, Gary and I looked at each other and without saying a single word, each of us knew that we had the same evil and devious thought: Scare the crap out of them! Although she didn't want to admit, I believe she finally did say that she was truly scared. Who wouldn't be? If you were alone with a friend late at night in cabin that was only lit by one kerosene lantern in the middle of a spooky meadow, you would too be frightened - and may have had to run to the bathroom. Except the bathroom was an outhouse. Using the outhouse meant going outside. 

I don't remember all the glorious details, but we did stare through the window and maybe knocked on them or something. The funny thing is, the first thing out of Gayle's mouth was, "Ryan, I know that's you!" However, I could tell by her voice that she was really saying, "Dear God, please let that be Ryan and not some meadow-murdering freak." The highlight of our shenanigans was the use of a very famous soundtrack. The Phantom of the Opera. We all know the scream. I had taken a stereo with me so I could turn the volume way up and play the scream and have it ring out into the night. Then it was time for some improvisation. I played the scream next to a random barrel that was in the "front yard" of the cabin. Next to it lie a metal chain - most likely used to tie down the rowboat. I banged the chain against the barrel rattling the nerves even more to the poor victims inside.

Gayle if you're reading this, know that while I'm sorry, I still have a big grin across my face :) 

TWENTY-EIGHT: Where do you go to get your baseball cards signed? The dentist.

Tom Herr won't ever be on the Hall of Fame ballot for Cooperstown, but he had a solid thirteen-year career. He wasn't a home run hitter nor a .300 hitter, but just a solid guy to have in the lineup. He finished his career with a respectable .271 average and an outstanding .989 fielding percentage. But what I remember most about Tommy Herr isn't that he is from Lancaster or that he is a former Phillie or that I got to see him speak at our annual Father/Son breakfast. What I remember him for is for something that we weren't even in the same room as each other. Tommy Herr and I had the same dentist. I never saw him there, but Dr. Rust was our dentist. I would leave my baseball cards of Tommy behind and Dr. Rust would see to it that they get signed. Sure enough, he did. He always signed them John 3:16 which I always thought was cool.


TWENTY-NINE: I wish I could tell my dad I'm sorry.

In Ms. Weber's eight grade class we were instructed to make a medieval weapon. I'm not sure if a report was involved or not, but I remember the weapon I chose. I remember it for all the wrong reasons. If my dad were here today, among the first things I would tell him was that I'm sorry for how this project ended. It did have it's moments...some good father/son moments of he and I working together out in the garage on his workbench creating the project together. The weapon of choice was a spiked club. We purchased a dowel rod and my dad thought of the idea of using the electric sander to make and indent on the top of a golf tee. By doing this we were able to glue the tees onto the dowel rod. Using thirty to forty golf tees (all sanded by him) we created a pretty cool looking spiked club. Finishing it off with some black spray paint, the assignment was complete.

The presentation went well. I mean, I don't remember it not going well. It was the bus ride home that day that I will forever feel guilty about. I was never one to get caught up into peer pressure, but in this case I felt like the poster child for stupid things. Before your imagination gets the best of you, know that I did not club anyone or use my weapon as a weapon of any kind.

Sorry...gotta go see fireworks...to be continued

Okay, I'm back! Great show!

I don't know how it got started, but I was sitting in the middle of the bus showing "friends" around me my project. Before I knew it, all of them were pulling the golf tees off of the club. And I was helping!

It almost makes me sick thinking about this memory. I don't remember my conversation with my dad word-for-word. He wasn't angry. He didn't yell. I really wish he had. He hardly said anything. But what he did say spoke volumes. It went something like this:


DAD
(seeing the spiked club without it's spikes)
What happened?

ME
(still not realizing what I really had done)
I took the spikes off.

DAD
(perplexed)
We made that together.

ME
(about 27 years later...still kicking myself)
Crap.

I'm sorry, Dad. I can only hope that the pack-rat in me has somehow in someway managed to keep that club and its pieces. If so, I will put it back together. Thank you, for spending that time with me making it.



THIRTY: Kids Praise!

I spent a lot of time in my room. No, it wasn't for bad behavior. At least I don't think it was. I don't recall ever being told, "Go to your room!" I took care of that myself. If I was upset there's only one place I wanted to be. My room. I loved it there and on some levels still miss it. I miss having a place to go to gather my thoughts. 

It was often messy. I'm not sure around what time the neatness side of me kicked in, but for most of my preteen years, I would say, my room was messy. Therefore, I spent a lot of time cleaning it up. Before I discovered U2 and even Michael Jackson, I'd clean to the sounds of Psalty the Singing Songbook. It's one of those discoveries that my mom made that she passed on to me. Something that I am thankful for even today because it was through Psalty and the kid's ministry they represented that helped solidify my foundation of Christ. 

I get excited when my own kids request them and sing along. By the way, the listen to the exact tapes I listened to. So there's some parts that were worn out of lots of play time. Each cassette is a story with plenty of praise songs. I listened to them all the way up to 5th grade and maybe even 6th. I would start listening to the Christmas Calamity one at the beginning of October. With each listen Christ's spirit filled and expanded my heart. It was a foundation that I'm thankful for and it's one that I needed. If I wasn't introduced to Christ at an early age, I know my life would be different...and not in a good way. I'm susceptible to Satan's power just like anyone else. But with Psalty, well, the message that Psalty sings about, I can do anything through Christ. I cannot stress enough the importance of giving your child the opportunity to listen to kids praise music.

P.S. And every church should allow the voices of singing children to be heard on a regular basis.

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