Recalling the haven of our youth

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sunset on a hay bale

There is no haven like the haven of our youth, our memories nearly impossible for the children of today to grasp and fully believe. 

Moms of the past

The universal “mom maneuver” of my entire generation needs very little explanation when chatting with our peers. Anyone of a younger generation has no idea what we are talking about. 

Among the vast majority of my friends, the mom was with her kids around the clock, and every child went along on every errand unless they were in school for the day. There was no term “stay-at-home-mom” then. It was generally life as we knew it. 

Rules of the road

Every mom drove about slowly and safely, keeping the youngest child in the front seat while the older ones bobbled about in the back; no one buckled up because I’m not even sure our old car came equipped with seat belts. 

When it came time to brake for any reason at all, the mom’s right arm would automatically project over to keep the little one from bouncing forward. I honestly can recall seeing my mom continue to do this long after we were all safely grown. It was an arm on automatic pilot within the confines of a moving car. 

There was no such thing as road rage in our part of the world. People waved to one another when passing on the country roads of my youth. 

“Who was that?” one of us might ask. 

“I’m not sure, but it might have been someone we know. It is important to be friendly,” came my mother’s response often throughout my childhood. 

Inside the car, Mom often said, with authority, “We’re getting close to town. Sit down. And no loud talking!” 

And so, the bigger kids quickly perched on that backseat bench that was every bit as sturdy as a sofa. And to be totally specific to the times, a couch was more accurately called a “davenport” back in my olden days. My nieces and nephews still remember the first time they heard their grandmother refer to the davenport and they were forced to ask, “Wait….what is a davenport?” 

Bigs and littles

More often than not, we stayed far from the living room, enjoying the fantastical world of outdoor play. The moms of our youth didn’t worry about us. The big kids were to look after the little kids, and they knew there would be repercussions if some failure occurred. 

Fresh air was our daily ally, no matter the outdoor temperature. 

“Make your little sister keep her coat on, and don’t let her lose her mittens,” is one such instruction my big sisters heard more than a time or two.

Imagination

We spent hours upon hours lost in the wonder of games made up by kids, for kids. Crack the whip, double dutch jump, our own wild farm life versions of truth or dare, and every possible variation on tag that any child could dream up. Hide and seek could have been an Olympic sport the way it was played in those days, the entire farm our Eden. 

Once, while beginning the braggart story in my head, I thought I had found the very best possible hiding spot ever. I squeezed into a tiny spot behind the ladder leading to the straw mow in what we called “the far barn” at our home place. I was the youngest by far of all the kids playing, and I was filled with glee over my victory. I was ready to accept the invisible trophy and the bragging rights that went with it. I hunkered down quietly for what seemed forever. Voices came near, then faded away. I was surely winning. 

Then I heard a softball cracking the bat. I listened closely, my triumphant feeling ebbing. Heck, yeah, the cousins and my sisters were starting a whole new game without me. I didn’t find the best hidey-hole spot, after all. 

They had just chosen not to find me!

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you, Miss Judith! Brought back so many great memories.

    Let’s bring back these SIMPLER TIMES–we can do it!

    Rx=turn off ALL electronics for a few hours a day….

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