Saturday, March 9, 2019

Self Indulgent Nostalga (No. 2)

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my (eventual) grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who don't yet, aka the Stickies) to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

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                                  Who The Hell Is This Guy?

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars 
Marie-Louise -- My beautiful muse  
Iggy -- My imaginary Sticky
Dana -- My imaginary Gentlereader

"Nostalgia isn't what it used to be." -Peter De Vries

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

While it's only been three weeks since the publication of S.I.N (No. 1), that particular missive was well received and I quite enjoyed writing it. Anyways, given that the primary focus of my efforts is to burden my progeny with my alleged wit and wisdom, episodes from my misspent yute would seem to be in order.

Sometime during the summer that I turned 13 -- the "Summer of Love" (1967) -- me and mine moved from inner-city Pittsburgh (with an h) to the 'burbs. At this point, Ed and Reda's (pronounced Reeda) brood of seven had been reduced to three -- my two younger brothers and I. We were sort of a sequel. The first four had been born relatively close together, there was a six-year gap, and then the last three of us incarnated.

Although I didn't realize it at the time, it was the beginning of one of the most, if not the most, pivotal years (+) of my life.

Although I don't remember the date, I do remember that moving day was hot. I/we went to sleep that night protected from the elements by only sheets, perhaps a light blanket. We were all awakened at some point when it started snowing. Well, it felt like it anyway. It was cold!

See, in the city, in an un-airconditioned apartment (which was the norm, not the exception at the time -- movie theaters had blue banners with white letters in an icicle font hanging from the marquee that said Air Conditioning!) it was cooler at night, but not by much. All that concrete and asphalt stored up the heat of the day and released it at night.

Incidentally, the movie theaters also had signs that said something like, Stop Pay Television! Sign Petition Here! Pay to watch TV? can you imagine!

Another night, we were awakened by a noise in our backyard and long story short this story climaxed with the five of us hanging out a window, captivated by a family of raccoons that had knocked over our backyard trash cans and were enjoying a late supper. Much larger, but much cuter, than rats.

When we shared our delight with the neighbors we were quickly disabused of our notions and informed that as far as the neighborhood was concerned these were giant rats and should be treated accordingly.

The bad news was that we had a tiny house with a tiny backyard because the house had been built at the back of the property. While the front yard was decently sized it sloped downward from the street making it difficult to play Wiffle ball or Lawn Darts (the original version; giant, potentially deadly darts).

The good news was that where the tiny backyard ended a patch of woods began that sloped down to a creek. After having been born and raised in the city it seemed like a forest to me. We played in that creek, which was perhaps two feet deep, and didn't pay much attention to the junk it was polluted with. Compared to inner-city Pittsburgh (with an h) this was a sylvan paradise.

I rode a school bus, five days a week to the ginormous pool at North Park. There was some sort of program that bussed kids from the Northern Pittsburgh (with an h) suburbs of Allegheny County to a huge swimming pool located in (the cleverly named) North Park.

Having arrived too late to sign up for said program, and not having been issued the card that was necessary to get on the bus, one of my newly minted suburban friends would simply board ahead of me and hand me their card out the window of the bus. If the bus driver noticed this via one of his large side-view mirrors he kept this knowledge to himself.

While the current crop of Stickies will find this hard to believe, I was so into swimming at the time I took the swimming lessons that took place an hour before the general public was allowed in the pool just so I could get more pool time. I already knew how to swim because I had done the same thing for two or three previous summers at the tiny 22nd Street pool on the Sahside of Pittsburgh (with an h).

Each summer I would earn a new set of cheap Red Cross pins that proved I was a qualified beginner, intermediate, and advanced swimmer. Nowadays, like everything else, things are much more complicated. Lawyers I'll bet.

I fell madly in love with Monica (Steve's little sister?). We swam together shared snacks from the snack bar and started sharing a seat on the bus. One day towards the end of summer her cousin showed up and suddenly Monica wanted nothing to do with me anymore. No words were spoken so I don't know what happened. I got over it by the time school started.

And that's when things got really interesting. Poppa loves you.

(To be continued...)

Have an OK day. 
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©2019 Mark Mehlmauer

[I haven't got around to figuring out the official way to do this yet... but as of 12.15.18 I'm offering up my humble scribbles under a Creative Commons License. That is to say, Anyone may republish my columns anywhere -- as long as they don't alter them and as long as they credit me (Mark Mehlmauer) as the author, and, link to my website, The Flyoverland Crank.

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