Recently, we were all vaccinated against coronavirus and off to finally visit our grandchildren. How wonderful to finally see them in person. On our first night together, we were talking about what they were doing to have fun.
The conversation turned into what we did for fun at their age.
A typical day in the '60s would be playing kickball with our homemade bases and arguing about who was out. In the afternoon, we would go to the end of our street, where there was a swampy area, and we would try to float on our makeshift raft.
At night we sleep outside in a tent or at a neighbor's house on their back porch. We actually caught fireflies and put them in a jar.
We would ride bikes when the park was open and spend afternoons at the community "New Pool." We would go over to our neighbor's for her Kool-Aid popsicles.
The highlight of the summer would be a block party. If you notice, none of these activities cost any money, just our imagination and the participation of neighborhood kids. I guess you could call those our playdates.
If we fought with a neighbor kid, which happened often, the moms and dads never got involved. It was a life skill to learn how to get along.
The other part of growing up, and the most important part, was your family. My memories are going to church and being separated from my brother, so we didn't fight in church. As we entered the pew, our dad would give us a tiny pinch just to remind us to behave in church.
We were usually late because getting eight family members ready for church was an event.
We took a memorable trip to Florida when I was in fifth grade in our station wagon. My parents in the front, with my youngest brother in the middle, I was in the middle seat with my grandmother, and my other two brothers were in the backward seat. My sisters were too little to travel.
The trip only took four days to get to Florida. It included bathroom stops about every hour. It was like one of those movies about a crazy vacation adventure.
Family holidays were so important with grandma, all the aunts, uncles and cousins with a food table that would feed 100!
So now that I'm in my 70s, my memories seem to mean more to me. When I'm with my siblings, we love to talk about growing up and sharing our stories.
One Christmas, when we were over at mom and dad's, and our children were running around, our mom gave us each a photo album filled with pictures of each of us growing up. I can't express how much those albums meant to all of us. She captured our childhood with photos and her love.
Now I've turned into my parents -- telling my grandchildren what it was like when I was growing up.
My dad's favorite story to tell was about how he had to walk miles to school and home for lunch in all weather conditions. We live in the house he grew up in, and walking from our house to Ross Street wasn't that far, but he sure loved to tell that story, and we never got tired of listening to it.
Growing up in the '60s, a tablet was something we wrote on, a screen was on a black-and-white TV, and our phone was attached to the wall.
If you were lucky and had a Kodak Instamatic camera, it would have a little tower on it where you would put a flashcube to take a picture. It would take a week for the photos to develop.
So, I have lived through my childhood of the '60s, our daughters' in the '80s, and our grandchildren's in the 2000s.
I hope they have memories that they will cherish growing up during their time and the same for my grandchildren.
Yes, times have and will always change, but I hope everyone can still hold on to those memories of growing up.
I think we baby boomers have the best memories!
If you are fortunate to have your parents, ask them to tell their story, write it down or tape it. You will never regret their memories.
Always feel free to share your memories with me.
Photos of the Peca family, courtesy of Anne Marie Starowitz (née Anne Marie Peca).
Top, Anne Marie with her dad and two of her brothers - and two cameras!
Below, the nuclear Peca family all dressed up.
Bottom, the extended Peca clan, each member looking sharp.