Summertime, Seventies-style

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My sweet grandma curled my hair with rags, like Nellie Olson in Little House. I thought I was so gorgeous!

No one is allowed to get hurt anymore.

Remember the days when we got slung off of merry-go-rounds, took headers out of trees, even went without seat belts in the car, for crying out loud?!

Now it’s all safety regulations and FDA rules.

As a mom myself, I get it. No one wants their babies to be injured. But seriously…


“Don’t come back in ‘til the streetlights come on!” my grandma hollered after us. I think we were on her last nerve. Me and my cousins came each summer to spend ten days with them and I know there were days we were just Too Much. If moms have a hard time with kids 24/7, I can’t imagine how grandmothers feel!

Fortunately, there were enchanted orchards and lush gardens and winding paths all around their place.

Well, not really. It was in a noisy Los Angeles suburb just a mile-plus from LAX airport, with jets blasting overhead and automobiles barreling down the busy street behind the house.

But my cousin Paul and I had an overabundance of imagination. We were four months apart and kinda looked alike, with our sandy blond hair and blue eyes. People sometimes mistook us for twins. We both loved stories – still do, as a matter of fact. So we could entertain ourselves for hours. And, truly, Grandma Tutt had a garden, a tiny pond, and lots of fruit trees. So, paradise found.

We played cops and robbers (Paul’s idea) and Little House on the Prairie (mine). We would reach up and shake the neighbor’s avocado tree until some fell into Grandma’s yard. We would pick and eat unripe apricots until we puked. We rode that weird adult tricycle they had up and down the streets, with one of us in the huge basket in front. (No bikes, mind you, just adult trikes). We’d sneak past the old man down the street’s garage, hoping the door was up and he would invite us in to see his huge train set-up. We would dig ditches in the sandy soil of the backyard and fill it with water from the pond, then dam it up with sticks.

Then, at the end of the day, Grandpa would come out and say, “Who wants to go to Sav-ons?”

“We do! We do!” we’d holler, knowing what was coming. Sav-ons Grocery had ice cream cones for a quarter, or was it a nickel? Cheap. It was our favorite time of the day.

After dinner we would watch Lawrence Welk with Grandma or baseball with Grandpa. Some nights we watched the Waltons or Little House (my favorite, obviously). Pure wholesome 70’s TV. Neither my cousin nor I had TVs at home until the 80’s (strict parents – don’t ask), so we were like the undead in front of the boob tube – eyes staring, mouths agape. I’m sure we creeped our grandparents out.

Later that week, we would pile into their camper and head to the beach. First we would stop at KFC and get a bucket of fried chicken and some mashed potatoes.

It was my grandparents’ turn to have big eyes as they watched us eat. Where do they put it?, they wondered aloud. It’s like they’d completely forgotten what it was like to have growing kids under their roof. My uncle was 6’5”, so I know he put it away once upon a time!


It’s different now, and that makes me sad. Kids are sitting inside, a/c blasting and guns blazing (on their Xbox screens, anyway).

Parents feel a need to entertain their progeny from dawn to dusk. Sports camps, arts and crafts, computer coding classes, and any other diversion/educational class they can think of. The only time I see kids being kids is at the neighborhood pool, still playing Marco Polo and keep-away with a pool toy, just like 40 years ago. (Gulp – has it been that long?!)

My son and his cousin are going to Grandparents’ Camp this weekend – not quite two weeks, but long enough for my husband’s parents… Fortunately, there are no game consoles. They will be playing board games, watching movies, and staying up way too late.

Maybe what’s old will become new again, like high-waisted pants or side ponytails. Or parachute pants and jelly shoes. Like “Little House in the Suburbs” or “The Walburns.”

That would be swell…

Day to Day Graces

Lover of the daily - my life as told in pictures and words. So much around us is missed because we are too blind to see grace in the everyday. “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things!” Psalms 119

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