Yes, the good old days. When we played red rover in the yard. When we ran the streets until we heard mom call us in for dinner. When we got a baseball game together with the neighborhood kids and everyone rode their bikes to meet at the field. But these memories are actually a little bit later in “the good old days.” Maybe I’ll share more of them another time.
Even before then, one of my earliest recollections is living in a small town of only a few hundred people deep in the back woods of the walleye fishing boundary waters of Minnesota. The first house I remember living in was a large two story across the street from the bay on a big corner lot. We had the kind of yard homes used to have before tract homes started popping up at the rate of dozen a day, three feet apart. A yard you could run and play in, playing statue and tag. It was the first house my parents ever bought and they paid good money for it – $11,000 to be exact. Dad (the coolest man ever on the face of the earth) had put redwood siding on the outside and we had a library. A library! In my probably four year old mind, that was something to be considered quite prestigious. In my now adult biased opinion, I posit that to be quite an accomplishment considering this was in the mid to late 60’s and my dad who built and filled the library had gone from dropping out of school in the eighth grade to care for the farm and his father who had been shot, to only a few years later receiving his first college degree of many to come, a BA in pre-law. Who goes from eighth grade to pre-law? My dad, that’s who.
We, my sister, brother, and I, were pretty proud of that place. In our eyes, we had the coolest house in the town. Dad decided to have a driveway poured to the two car garage and instead of cutting down the tree that was in the way, he just poured the concrete around it. So in addition to having the only big redwood house with a library in town, we now had the only house with a tree growing in the middle of the driveway. To pull into the garage you had to be careful to steer clear of the tree.
At some point my dad then decided he wanted to rebuild the garage. He contemplated tearing the old one down and decided it would be quicker and less work to just burn it down. Remember now, those were the good old days. The days when you could do such things as burn your own garage down without going to jail, charged with arson. And burn it down he did! He set fire to that garage one night after dark. After all, it wouldn’t have been the same during the day. Boy was it exciting! All the neighbors came out. We got to stay up past our bedtime. The fire department came. Not to put out the fire but to say hello, stand around with the other locals amidst the crackling of timber and smoke, to watch it burn, make sure it didn’t get out of hand, and generally just talk small town talk. My dad never did do things the ordinary way.
Those were the good old days.
Willie The Walleye- Baudette, MN, town mascott