Posted by: Jim E | January 31, 2010

Pastoral?…Yes, but it was idyllic…

Do you remember when you were young???…most of us do…we have all kinds of memories…some good, some not so good…and some we wish we didn’t remember…

But I do remember the best of my growing up years…and try to ignore the worst…oh, they are still there…but I have tried to learn from them (if there is something to be learned)…but then go on…because life goes on with or without us…I choose to be on the train…

Trains?…oh yes, I remember trains…

(sidebar)…we lived in what I always called as I grew up…”Lower Slobbovia”, it was the creation of Al Capp who drew the “Li’l Abner” comic strip in the “funny papers”…Lower Slobbovia was an underdeveloped, far away country, socially backward, remote, impoverished and unenlightened place…

And that seemed to me to describe where I grew up…we were poor by the standards of the kids I went to school with…we had an outhouse, the sink emptied into a pail (that we got to throw out in the back alley)…no running water (well, a pipe ran from our grandparents house underground to our basement house…no upstairs (no house up there)…but I knew we must be poor because, I went to school with kids that had large and beautiful houses,  swimming pools, not only outside…but in their basements…

So yes, I named it, and rightly so…”Lower Slobbovia”…(end sidebar)…

Ah yes, trains…we had a railroad a block away…a county dog pond a block away…but these were “bragging rights” to us…pure adventure…we had the “right” to go to the railroad…the Minnesota Northfield and Southern Railway…


Not just the tracks but the “roundhouse”…they worked on the engines there…we knew the guys who worked on the engines…the engineers…we got to go on the cabooses…sometime got to ride them down the tracks…climbed up and down on the boxcars…ran along the top of them (pretended we were “riding the rails”)…these huge buildings, where they worked on the engines, were so much cooler in the summer…always a breeze coming through the building…the drinking fountain was always running…and it was ice cold…us kids loved it…I loved that neighborhood, everyone knew everyone else…

And the dog pond…it had runs outside for the dogs…they barked all day…I didn’t know what happened to most of those dogs when I was a child…but it was a great place…we knew the guy who ran it…who took care of the dogs…we had a chance to feed them…we knew every inch of that neighborhood…every house…every person who lived there…we were all in about the same boat…we didn’t know we were poor…because I don’t think I knew what that meant…I knew the kids I went to school with lived in a better house and gave out better Halloween treats…but other than that…it meant nothing to me…check your memory…what did you think at that time of your life???…

So no doubt we lived in Lower Slobbovia…but it was somehow a gift to me…and this is no doubt a pastoral representation of that time…it is an adults’ vision of the good life that derives from childhood…pastoral in that it is based on the memory and the desire to recover that place and time when life was ordered and secure…and this tells more a story of respect for my upbringing and not an idealistic view of what could be…

So yes, pastoral…but indeed it was an idyllic time…like your childhood…for most of us a memory of a time and place when life was ordered and secure…embrace your memories…


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