Be honest now, we have all been kids, as far-fetched as it may seem to most of us now. We grew up as very impressionable young beings with dreams, fantasies and developing hormones that we really did not understand at the time. It was a wonderful period in our lives when the world promised to be our oyster and anything was possible if we believed and worked hard enough to attain it.
This is why I enjoy my exchanges with Margaret Rigsby and a few others on the Dresden Virtual History Group web site who remember growing up in the 1940s. With utmost respect, retired school teacher Margaret will no doubt be upset with me for revealing that as a 10 or 11-year-old, I had a crush on her (then a teenager). There, the cat is finally out of the bag. Come on, surely I am not the only one who ever fancied an older girl or boy! There was a bit of irony in one of my posts recently when I teased Margaret for not inviting me on walks with her parents along the old railway tracks in Dresden about 65 years ago.
I had crushes on other older girls too -- Pauline Elgie and Jeannie Simmons to name a few others. They were in high school and I was still in public school. Pauline and Jeannie were good friends and I used to sit with them in the stands at junior and senior baseball games. One day we were talking about the popular comic strip "Dick Tracy" and we began enacting certain characters. "I'll be B.O. Plenty," Pauline said, "...and I'll be Gravel Gertie," offered Jeannie. "Okay then, I'll be Sparkle," I chimed in. (Sparkle was the daughter(?) of B.O. and Gertie.)
From that point on, Pauline and Jeannie called me "Sparkle" and I loved it. It made me feel that I had something in common with them. Pauline's mother passed on a funny story to my mother a number of years later when we were both married with families. As Mrs. Elgie told it, one evening Pauline said that she was going to skip supper because she was going to a baseball game at Kinsmen Park. "Oh, is Alvie playing?" she asked (Alvie being Alvie Lovell, a boyfriend at the time). "No," answered Pauline. "Dickie Wright is playing!". Sadly, Pauline passed on a number of years ago.
Jeannie was still in her teens when she married a local boy, Doug Pegg. They lived in an small apartment adjacent to Clarence Breaton's shoemaker's shop. They found the young couple still in bed one morning, the victims of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning and faulty ventilation. I had difficulty dealing with that one.
It is because of sentimental stories and memories like these, and countless others, that I cling to the nostalgia of growing up in my hometown. In many ways, I am still growing up I guess. Memories are the one thing that no one can take away from you.
Incidentally, I grew out of my "older women stage". My wife Rosanne is 10 years my junior.