Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Memories of childhood

I'm sitting here on a hot summer's day... nearly 100 degrees and humid here in the Greater DC area... sipping on a cherry Slurpee. Brings back memories of growing up on the other side of the Beltway, over in suburban Maryland, in the late 60s. Back when the town of Bowie was "way out there" and a brand new bedroom community sprouting on a former thoroughbred horse farm. Long before the sprawl of suburbs that now sees folks commuting to DC from across the Bay Bridge, or from places as far as Frederick and Hagerstown, MD, or Warrenton, VA. Back when my family bought a four bedroom Cape Cod for just under $20K... and a bottle of Dr. Pepper was 16 cents, 2 cents of which was the deposit on the bottle.

Which brings me back to the Slurpee. Moving to Maryland from Long Island when we did, 7-11 stores were a new thing to us. We had one within easy walking distance from our house, and my sister Louise and I would walk up there to get sodas, candy, ice cream, or of course, Slurpees. Back then they only had a few flavors... as I recall, you could get cola, cherry, or orange, I think grape... maybe root beer, but I'm not certain of that. And back then, the machine offered you only a choice of two of those flavors, depending on the day. Now there's an amazing array of flavors, and something like 8 of them at any one time. And the cup sizes were tiny by today's standards. But they sure hit the spot on a hot day. Even today, I have to admit, this is tasting mighty good. I couldn't drink more than one or two a summer now, but on the right day, it's fun to revisit an old favorite.

The other thing about those trips to 7-11 that was different... My sister and I would stop by a nearby construction site, where a batch of new town houses were sprouting, to find discarded soda bottles, so we could cash them in for the deposit. The workers tended to leave a lot behind, so we managed to finance quite a bit of our trips from that site, or at least augment our own cash. I was probably 6-7 at the time, and Louise would have been 10-11. I have to wonder... would anyone today let two of their kids roam a construction site unsupervised? Or head off into the local woods for an adventure of frog-catching or playing "army"? Probably not... and I have to imagine childhood is poorer for it.

I guess today is my official "codger-in-training" post, huh? :-)

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