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July 16, 2011

Looking Back: Favorite childhood places, activities exist only in memories

When reminiscing back to my childhood days those many years ago, I wonder why my surroundings always appeared larger then they actually were. Perhaps it's because I was smaller or, then too, sometimes our minds can imagine things differently as we age.

As I visited my childhood's old stomping grounds several times over the years I found that to be so true. Many places from those fond memories have disappeared ... just not there anymore ... much to my disappointment.

Gone is the little peeper pond that my brother and I used to enjoy each springtime as we would collect some of the frog eggs and pollywogs. We would just wonder at the marvel as we watched their tails disappear and little legs materialize seemingly out of nowhere. What a wonderful design of a loving Creator.

A modern housing development with attached garages, macadam driveways and manicured lawns had taken over our once -beloved field where that special peeper pond once existed. All is gone in the way of what is termed "progress" but I can always fondly remember my growing up years that my brother and I so enjoyed. Memories are many to be treasured.

We moved to New Jersey away from that peeper pond when I was in sixth grade. That was the time for bicycle riding and exploring our new surroundings. We lived in a low-traffic residential area that lent itself to woods and fields. The few blocks surrounding the homes had cement or old slate sidewalks to ride on so our parents had no worry as we would travel the five blocks toward the busier section of town where one of our favorite places to visit was located.

That popular newspaper corner store seemed always busy. Our interest was the endless display of colorful magazines, which also contained our sought-after newly released comic books. After our careful selection, we always visited the penny candy counter where we took much time to decide which treat to buy, for there were so many, many goodies and all for just a single penny.

Penny candy? Yes, pennies were not to be ignored like today as we sometimes pass them by lying on the street. What can you buy for a penny today? But the yesterday of my childhood was a different story. Each penny was counted and prized. One penny for a delicious candy treat and only 10 pennies for the comic book we rode the five blocks to buy.

As we grew older ,our parents presented us with an allowance to start our education on how to handle money. Of course the 25 cents never seemed to be enough or we just didn't learn the "how" but we were resourceful and I must admit pretty smart. The name of the game was to beat my siblings to the "money source."

Our father came home from work each evening on the 6:10 commuter train from New York City. Dinner was always shortly after and then Dad would relax with newspaper and cigar in his cozy easy chair. (No TV back in those days.)

Why were those chairs called "easy chairs"? Easy to get comfy and slide back on the fluffy upholstered pillow? But it was not too easy to get out of that chair without some maneuvering of our posterior. So, with the chair's slant and a helpful wiggle, my father's trouser pockets would easily gave up his loose change. The coins slid down into the side of the chair crevices _ easy chair and easy money to supplement our allowances.

My older sister and younger brother gave me competition so cleverness had to be forthcoming. As Dad's weight would force the larger coins deeper and deeper, I thought to climb up and kneel toward the chair's back thus opening up the sides wider for little hands to probe easier for the hidden loot. Success was short lived for the honest thing was to share, as Hebrews 13:16 encourages us. (That was certainly a youthful sacrifice.)

Gone is the cozy easy chair, gone is the corner store with comics and penny candy. Gone are most of our special places from our childhood. (Most would think I could add: Gone is the worth of a penny, and that is so true.)

I will always fondly remember our favorite places of my childhood.

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 78-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at www.

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