(by a Forty-Something)
Growing up on the East Coast of Canada when I did was pretty great. Since moving to the United States and spending much time getting to know friends down here I’m realizing something that as a kid I’d hadn’t put together – we had available to us most all the same popular toys, fads, music, television and movies (although we didn’t have all the same clothing brands or stores, and missed out on many of the concerts).
Well I kind of knew that, but what I really didn’t appreciate was the little extra things we had, some Canada-wide, some specific to the Maritimes, and even our little hometown! This is most likely true wherever you grow up, and it’s a pretty great thing.
Regardless, for me some of the very best things about being a kid weren’t even things, but then again some were and they were all quite fantastic!
In no specific order, here are the first ten to come to my mind today:
1.Running until falling down, exhausted. Remember when you could just jump up and run as far as possible at your top speed? I do. It wasn’t like being a runner, it was about all-out sprinting until your little legs gave out and you could literally fall down wherever you stopped. For instance if you were in a field you could just sprint through the grasses, faster than a cheetah, and then suddenly you’d simply keel over panting, knowing you must have gone at least fifty miles. If the tide was out at the beach you could run way across the wavy lines left in the sand until you came to rocks or crab grass and easily drop like dead weight down into a tidal pool and pretend you’re in a hot bath.
*note to self just learned this today: Swash Mark – The thin wavy line of fine sand left by the uprush when it recedes from its upward limit of movement on the beach face.
2.Speaking of that phenomenon, remember when you were not afraid to fall down? We had a foam pit at our childhood gymnastics club; I loved just falling right into the abyss. Of course that does sound pretty cushy and not scary (although I wonder now). But I never worried about falling down, and I don’t mean from heights, yes that was and still is scary. I mean just falling, whether it was ice skating or roller skating, skiing, even tripping on “nothing” (or your own two feet), or artlessly plopping down just about anywhere, you just get right back up, or not…ah, to be that kid again!
3.The Tooth Fairy! Okay, losing a tooth can either be the most natural event in a child’s life usually, or sometimes unfortunately it’s quite traumatizing. But either way, knowing the Tooth Fairy will be making an appearance while you slumber, to collect your canine or incisor what-have-you, while that maybe should be construed as unsettling, it instead filled us with anticipation. For my sister and me, we felt quite fancy putting our lost tooth out for this occasion because we had bottles of Avon perfume called The Good Fairy Decanter, and she was lovely, with a little wristlet to hold our former chomper and a glow-in-the-dark wand that we’d charge up under our bedside lamps. It was a whole experience, not even including any treasure, ie. coins, that she’d always leave us!
4.Receiving a Laura Secord sucker at Dr Langille’s office…about the only thing that would make going to see the doctor bearable at times was this special treat waiting at the end of a visit (for me it was butterscotch). Of course, it was much nicer to be there because someone else was the patient and still collect on the lollipop! Usually for me it was tonsils-related, so they weren’t bad to soothe a sore throat, too. (I see you can buy them online still under the name kiddy pops)
5.Saturday morning cartoons were something we waited all week for. Of course we didn’t have more than three or four channels to choose from and I’m guessing they didn’t all have cartoons; some had to have been news programs, etc. Everything from Scooby-Doo, the Flintstones to the Jetson’s, Muppet Babies and Strawberry Shortcake, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe as well as She-Ra; Princess of Power, to Yogi Bear & Friends, the Smurfs, the Snorks, Barbapapa…Carebears, Jem, and the Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show! Even a little of the Super Friends Hour, Thundercats and Transformers, and of course the Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes Comedy Hour!! Just to name a few…
6.Going to the Pop Shoppe store to pick out flavors. I don’t expect we did this too often, but I remember the bright red plastic bottle holders at their depot, and we’d pick out enough to fill one up to take home, and then return the empties and everything when they were all gone. Flavors like (pink) cream soda, lime rickey, grape, orange and root beer in stubby bottles! So..much..fun!
7.Driving over to Nana’s house on Sundays. We would usually spend half the day down on the beach, depending on what time of year it was we could be beach combing and climbing, wading, canoeing, swimming or just playing around, collecting found objects, getting sun and being kids. She would always make us a big dinner and then we also usually watched The Wonderful World of Disney there before leaving. On the way home our Dad would take up the entire backseat sometimes, even sticking his feet out the car windows, while us three girls sat upfront when Mom drove. Simon & Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park would often be playing (sometimes even Ray Stevens, too, for some laughs). Great, great memories.
8.Stopping for a treat at the Fundy Dairy Bar – one of our local non-chain versions of 31 Flavors, the hard ice cream cones were the big seller; all the standards plus ones like Orange Pineapple, Tiger Stripe, Maple Walnut and Blueberry Grunt (a local specialty)!!! This sometimes happened after a day at Nana’s house when we were on the way home. I remember vividly being sun kissed from the beach, enjoying every last bit of a dripping ice cream cone! It eventually expanded and then came under new ownership with a new name, Molly’s Dairy Bar & Abbie’s Café. Hope it’s still a good place to stop, but I heard that it is!
9.My dad taking me into the elementary school to meet the teacher (either Mrs. Reed or Reid or even Reade, but I thought was Mrs. Read, and quite an impressive name for a teacher!) and seeing the classroom the Spring before I was to start “Primary” (Kindergarten). I distinctly remember sitting in a desk for the very first time, then opening the little drawer, seeing the kid’s lunch and feeling SO excited to start school. Fall, at least that year, couldn’t possibly come soon enough!
10.Creating lavish Barbie Doll homes on the beach with my sister! We would spend hours and hours doing this some summers. We’d lug all our name brand Mattel Barbie furniture (& dolls) as well as any handmade or unofficial furniture for 10”-13” dolls, down the beach from our Nana’s house to a semi-shaded spot where the dried sea grass lined the sand almost in rows. This would become the structural part of our homes. We would spend most of time designing and decorating the elaborate floors of these mansions. It was so grand. We’d break for lunch when she called us, and then return to play. At some point we’d either get tired of it, or bored and so we’d pack it all up and drag it all back to the house until the urge struck us once more.
BONUS – 1979 opening to The Wonderful World of Disney – Raina Morton May 26 2015