A recent nostalgic like post on Fill Your Own Glass got me feeling all nostalgic about my youthful years in small town west Texas. We actually didn’t live there long, but those few years ended up being very memorable. Maybe it was due to the age (4 to 8 years old) or maybe it was the friends, the interesting terrain, or maybe it was the small town feel, but whatever the reason, the memories have stuck firmly, maybe not so vividly, but firmly.
We didn’t have much in terms of possessions or money so we lived simply. But I don’t recall ever wanting for anything. We always had enough, always had a house full of love. Speaking of our house, it was small and had plain ugly tile and 70’s style flat green carpet on the floors. My sister and I shared a room with bunk beds for the first year or two until my sister got her own room with new furniture. I had mixed feelings about no longer sharing a room, but my sister was at the age where having her own room was her preference, I’m sure of it.
I remember a backyard that consisted mostly of sand. It was a soft sand, what you’d find on a nice soft sandy beach, only this was in desert country. What grass we had in the yard had burrs (what we always called “stickers”) galore. Our poor dachshund constantly was having to stop and work on getting a sticker out of his paw. He got smart though and made flattened down paths around the yard where the grass eventually gave up. We kids would use these paths to get around our backyard because we insisted on going barefoot even though having to stop to remove a painful sticker out of our feet was a common occurrence.
When we moved into the house, a little wooden playhouse structure was at the back of the yard. I LOVED this little house. It was was so much fun. But no matter how much sweeping, the wooden planked floor was perpetually dirty. One time during a serious make believe “playing house” session, I “made” two bowlfuls of sand, pretending it was dinner. I actually ate a few spoonfuls, playing the part of mother/father (?) to the extreme I suppose. Who knows, really.
There were dirt road alleys behind the houses in our neighborhood. This is where homeowners would stash their trashcans for trash pickup. And the alleyways served as an unending source of adventure for us kids. We would sometimes sift though junk other neighbors were throwing away. Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure, you know. I’m sure our parents were thrilled. Occasionally, we would “solve” mysteries. This was pretty much us inventing our own mystery to solve. An example would be finding a (junky) ring that most likely a neighbor was throwing out, but we would create a background story, like the queen must have had her gems stolen and we shall find the thief!
There was an old widower who lived down the street, and he would let us play in his backyard. He had some sort of lattice contraption where vines and flowers grew. He would also regularly supply us with Popsicles. I remember my sister stepping on a wasp in his backyard and I think it was me who got a bloody foot from stepping on a rusty nail. My mom insisted on a tetanus shot. Ugh. Hmm… maybe the old man’s backyard wasn’t the best place for kids, but no harm, no foul. We all somehow managed to see more years.
We had a crazy old cat lady who lived in the neighborhood. No one ever dared to trick-or-treat at her house. I don’t remember the specific legends about this lady, but we all knew to just stay away. Bless the lady’s heart, I understand it now. I’m pretty sure she was suffering from dementia. She actually chased after my sister and her friend when they were riding their bikes one evening. The girls came barreling down the alleyway behind our house and they were screaming for my dad to help. My dad calmly walked into the alleyway and walked in front of the woman’s car, she wasn’t going very fast, and that was that. Not sure if the girls had done anything to provoke the lady, like maybe they were snooping around her house or something, but I don’t think she was in her right mind anyway.
There were school plays, coyote howls, horny toads, giant red ants, Friday night football games, the pecan tree packed public park, the over-chlorinated city pool. These all added to my “fond memory” cache. Oh how I hated it when we moved, but life did go on with new friends and new adventures. But there’s just something extra special about that time spent in west Texas, and I am so blessed to have been able to experience it.