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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What Defines the Last Innocent Age?

Okay we go. I think this will be great fun. The series is "The Last Innocent Age".  What defines that? What is this age and how do you know if you're a part of it?
One definition is age. I guess the easiest determining factor is if you were born at the tail end of the baby boom or maybe a few years after. I'm going to say if you are 43 or older, you are part of this Innocent Age.
That's easy. But now the intangible definition...
If you remember Saturday morning Cartoons. If you remember when you actually celebrated Christmas in school and not Winter Holiday. If you put baseball cards in your spokes to make it sound like a Harley. If that bike was a "Spider bike". If you owned a Duncan YoYo (A Butterfly model especially) If you owned "Clackers" or "Roller Derby" brand roller skates for the street with steel wheels. If you know what a Jack and Jill Ice Cream truck is. If you caught lightning bugs and kept them in mayonnaise jars as nightlights. If you ever kept a jar of tadpoles and watched them become frogs. If you ever fished with a cork bobber. If you remember TV shows like "The Brady Bunch", "The Courtship of Eddies Father" or "The Partridge Family" when they where new. If you knew that Once Bugs Bunny was over on Saturday morning you went outside to play for the entire day unless you were sick. If you went to drive in movies and remember those speakers that hung in the drivers side window or those curly mosquito repellent things they sold that you lit with a match and it smoked and kept the mosquitoes away. If you played Little League baseball and you wore your stirrups high. If you blocked your baseball cap with baseball cards and oiled your glove and tied a baseball in it to break it in. If you remember AM radio and TV Antennas and Dr. J's Afro. If you remember who played third base before Mike Schmidt in Philly and if you remember the bumper sticker that said "Only the Lord saves more than Bernie Parent"
If you stayed out until 10 pm on cottony summer nights playing tag, or Buck-Buck in the street with your friends. If you played wiffle ball or stick ball or kick the can of capture the flag. If watching TV was like punishment on a Saturday afternoon when you'd rather be playing with your friends. When you had no idea what a video game was. If you watched "the Wonderful World of Disney" on Sunday nights before getting ready for school to begin again on Monday.
If you remember Scary movies at matinees and Shows like Captain Noah and his Magical Ark. If you remember your parents talking in hushed tones about the war in Vietnam. If you remember a time when there were NO leather sneakers except for Pumas. If names like Ille Nastase, Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Rick Wise, Carl Yazstremski or Bobby Orr mean something to you. If Jim McKay was your guide to obscure but wildly interesting sports from around the world. If you remember slot cars and Rock 'em Sock 'em robots and playing 500 Rummy with your are probably part of the Last Innocent Age.
Mostly...if you grew up in a time when you knew...really really knew your friends on your block and you knew their parents and they were a part of your life like a family member. If you knew your friends grandfather because he lived with your friend...or you knew what kind of beer your friends dad drank or you knew which mom on the block made the best dinners. if you remember a time and place when neighbors watched out for each other, cooked for each other if there was a sickness or a death and loved each other like are part of the Last Innocent Age. It's gonna be a lot of fun...and I am afraid it's going to be a touch of sadness because it truly was a time that has come and gone.
This will be a chronicle of memories made with Tommy and Donna and Monk and Kevin and Billy and Franky and Cheryl and Sheila. It's Johnny and Mark and Richard and Pat and my brother Tom. It's men like Pat Ferraro and Bill Messick and Ben Wilkins and old man Weingartner (The Goose) and "The Mayor" Leon Riccio. It's pets we loved like Cinder the beagle, Teddy the St. Bernard, Cookie the cat, Max the Springer Spaniel. It's our first car, our first fish, the first time we hopped cars and our first kiss. It's street hockey at Our Lady of Fatima parking lot. It's Wilmington manor Elementary school, George Read Middle school and William Penn high. it's fishing at None Such Creek, sledding in Manor Park and swimming at Elk Neck.
We could stay out at night without fear of weirdos and danger. It's a time when paper boys delivered the news. Its a Cup parade down Broad Street and it's Tug McGraw leaping off the mound. It's our was a good one and we're going to have fun telling it.
Ready? here we go...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Last Innocent Age...

Hey gang...
Yeah I'm still alive!  It's been a long time since I've written and to be honest, I was worried I had lost my desire. A lot has been happening...big life changes...tough decisions. I haven't had the extra time to sit down and write and I haven't really felt like it. But yesterday i got a piece of news that made me get back in gear and probably start laying out my next book. Like "A Ragamuffin Christmas", I think I'm going to start it off as a blog series and see how it flies.
Yesterday I got the sad news that one of my childhood friends' father had passed away. Mr. Wilkins was a big man. He worked for the power company after serving in the Marine Corp. His youngest son John was one of my dearest friends growing up on Monroe Avenue. He remains a friend to this day.
Johnny's dad joins Mr. Messick and Mr. Ferraro as dad's from the block who have gone on to heaven. I am sad to be marking the time in this way.
Monroe Avenue was a dead-end street we were kids. (It's be redesigned now and traffic flows through). It was a wonderful place to grow up back then. We were all friends, we had traditions and habits and secrets that only the kids on the block knew.
We did things that the next generation (our kids) will never know about or experience. I am starting to realize that we were the last truly innocent generation. After us, life began to get complicated much earlier and kids don't do the things we did. So that is what the next series will be..."The Last Innocent Age". It's stories of growing up in a time when life was easier, kids were safer, and the world was still a happy place. Stories of telephone pole tag, sandlot baseball, Saturday fishing trips to "Nonesuch" creek, holding our own Olympics, and learning about life. Stories that will mostly make you laugh, sometimes make you cry, and always make you remember when you did things much the same way. I'm hoping it'll be special, and wonderful...especially for my friends from Monroe Avenue...who may be the only people in the world who know how to play "Hinyaman"