As you get older, your experiences… the paths you’ve walked in life… all that you know and have become (and what or who made you that way) rest in the memories you hold in your head.
Sometimes they’re lively and churn around. Other times sleeping… but they’re there, yes, they are. Sometimes a sound, a smell, a picture; some little thing shakes that memory, and it comes awake so vividly you’re compelled to contemplate it–to turn it over in your mind and view from all sides.
One instance of this for me was hearing a song from 1968/69.
Why is that important to me?
It was the last good year of my childhood.
It was a span of time in 1968-1969, in Round Rock, Texas that seemed a golden time The kind of year, from your youth seen through the lens of decades, you wish had never ended. And I look through that perfectly framed window of time at a carefree little boy. Me.
Those Were the Days by Mary Hopkin, and In the Year 2525 by Zager & Evans played in a regular rotation every weekday morning. They finished about the time we (my mother and me) would stop at the Wag-A-Bag where I’d get a barbecue pork sandwich (on a bun) and pop it into the cooking oven then add to my lunch bag for school. Other days, and the timing a bit different would give me Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James and the Shondells and a fresh, hot, donut at the Lone Star Bakery where they’d let me hook mine straight out of the fryer.
A dime would buy one of those jumping frogs; the kind with the squeeze bulb to make them jump. I’d have it tear through my squads of plastic soldiers—my own monster movie scene right from the matinees I’d see some Saturday’s at the Sterling Theater—even the bazooka guys could not kill the beast.
At the Dairy Queen I could get a Frito Pie (chili on top of Frito corn chips) for $0.35, and with a nickel, I’d play songs on the jukebox—my favorite at the time, Bad Moon Rising by Credence Clearwater Revival—while I ate.
We weren’t rich but weren’t poor (that came later). My parents didn’t have a lot of money, but there was enough. And just enough love… enough then to make a young boy reasonably happy—it was all I knew. It was a good time, the last good days before things went bad and much of what was left of my youth went south on me. That bad moon didn’t set until I was on my own, almost a decade later, at 18 and moved far far away.
And my life turned out better than I ever thought it would.