I must admit it has been a really long time since I tried to catch a lightning bug. This thought went through my head as my grandson, Hayden, had me trying to run around the backyard to help him catch lightning bugs.
This past Saturday night brought back memories of how little it used to take to keep my siblings and me happy on a Saturday night when we were young. As soon as the lightning bugs made their appearance in early summer, we would be hot on their trails.
I remember many summer nights were spent outside running around the house with a quart jar trying to catch lightning bugs to put inside and later sneak into our rooms. Once in our room, we would let a few out of the jar and watch them fly around the room and fall asleep thinking we had done something great sneaking them in without our parents’ knowledge.
Our lightning bugs were caught with the sound of bullfrogs croaking from a nearby pond, and the sound of crickets humming in the night. That is a sound I miss hearing and one that will always be forever in my memory. Along with that sound I can hear my siblings’ voices and laughter.
Even now, when once in a great while I hear a bullfrog croak, I have to close my eyes and dream back on those nights. However, when I think back now, I wonder how we stayed so lucky to escape snake bites on those bug catching nights. There was never a week that went by that we didn’t see a snake that came from the nearby creek and woods. I guess as noisy and active as we were, the snakes got out of our way.
When you lived down a lane, it really didn’t matter how loud you squealed. Besides that, our dog, Tramp, was the best snake killer in the country. All it took was a “Sic, em, boy!” and the snake was history. Even so, I still lie awake nights now, and shudder when I think back on those snakes. What I took for granted as part of life back then will put me in hysterics now. I have become a “scaredy cat.”
I can never remember any of us kids ever being bored or unable to think of something to play or do. We had very few toys, but it never seemed to matter to any of us. The only time I can remember ever wishing for toys was the few weeks before Christmas when we received a Sears or J.C. Penney catalogue through the mail. I have to admit, I could dream then. Five of us kids shared one red bicycle, a Western Flyer that came from the toy department at Western Auto one Christmas. It took about a year before I got to learn how to ride the bike since I was the fourth child, and the three older ones kept it pretty occupied. I only got to experience bike riding when the novelty wore off for them.
While I was discussing this fact with some other ladies who grew up during that era, I tried to rationalize in my mind why the kids then could entertain themselves without a room full of toys. We practically never watched any television, because the reception was poor down the lane, so television didn’t occupy our time. No, we depended on one another for our fun.
Then it dawned on me late one night the reason for this. We never expected anything from our parents. During the week, we weren’t told if you do this or that chore, we will buy you something when we go to town. For us, if we didn’t do this or that chore, we could only expect getting our rears spanked for not minding. We knew our entertainment was dependent on ourselves.
We always had to work hard during the days so we enjoyed long summer nights where we could play outside and invent our own games. If it happened to be a rainy night, we would just read a good book or play cards. The days we enjoyed the most were when we had company from church or our cousins would come to visit us. The more the merrier.
Before I close, I would like to wish all fathers a very happy Father’s Day. Thanks to all of you for what you do for your families. I hope you have a blessed day and a day your children can look at you with pride. I appreciate all the hard work my daddy did for us that kept food on our table and clothes on our backs. Let your dad know you love him and appreciate him.