I Can Remember When ...
Growing up in the 60s
Growing up in the 1960s was much different from growing up today. These were turbulent times. The Vietnam War was going strong and picking up steam. Rock-n-Roll music was taking off also. Names like Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and The Beatles were all over the news. Yes, these were turbulent times, but to a child, growing up in the 60s was awesome!
I grew up in a small town in Alabama called Cordova. Most people in Cordova worked at the local saw mill, the brick plant, the cotton mill, or in one of several coal mines located in the area. Cordova was a blue collar town. Peopled worked hard and were very family oriented. Cordova didn't have much in the lines of entertainment, but it did have the old Dixie Theater. I remember walking to town on Saturday mornings to the theater to watch cowboy westerns all day long. For 10 cents a kid could watch movies all day and still have enough money left over for a snow cone.
In the summer, we could go swimming at the local pool. In our little town people didn't have backyard pools so everyone gathered at the community pool. For 25 cents you could get in the pool and stay all day long. The pool would close at 5:00 PM but would open again at 6:00 PM. Swimming at night was the coolest thing ever.
The pool wasn't just a place to go swimming, it was the place to be in the summer time. If you wanted to find someone, chances were pretty good that they would be at the swimming pool, either swimming or just hanging out with the local crowd.
I remember when the 4th of July was always a big day. All of the Little League teams in town normally had games on the 4th. The pool would open earlier than normal and charcoal grills could be smelled burning all over town. I remember a few times we actually had a greased pig chase and a greased pole to try and climb. Money was stuck to the pole at different intervals allowing kids to get a bigger payday the higher they could climb. At night you could see and hear fireworks all over town.
I can remember when summer was almost over. Late in the evening, the cadydids would start to sing and the lightning bugs would come out. I can remember catching lightning bugs in a mason jar and it was always a race with the other neighborhood kids to see who could catch the most.
I can remember when we would sit on the front porch and shell peas. People in the neighborhood new each other because of the front porch. Not many people had air conditioning so most people sat on the porch and talked to each other. Now days, people build privacy fences and stay in the backyard. I new every family in my neighborhood when I was growing up. Today I have families who live just down the street that I don't even know their names.
I remember when summer ended and school began, it meant one thing in Cordova and that was the beginning of football. Cordova was well known for it's football teams and has been for a long time. I can remember looking at the high school players as heroes and being bigger than life. Most kids in Cordova grew up wanting to be a Blue Devil when they got older.
Cordova Blue Devils
I can remember when Christmas was really special. No store owners would have dreamed of being open on Christmas day. Today Christmas is just another day to make a buck.
I can remember when the high school band would march to the middle of town and play Christmas music at the annual lighting of the Christmas lights. This always seemed like a magical time.
Sometimes I think that we have forgotten how special these times were. The world was a lot slower in the 60s. Maybe it is time for us to slow down and remember what made those times so special. We didn't have cell phones, computers, 24 hour TV, and unlimited media. We just had fun and enjoyed life. Maybe it's time to get out of the backyard and back on the front porch. Maybe it's time to shell some more peas and get to know the neighbors.
Who could forget the great TV shows from the 60s. I can remember going to school and everyone was talking about the latest episode of The Rifleman. Every little boy I knew wanted to be like him. Also, who didn't laugh at the cast of F - Troop? I actually saw the original movie at the old Dixie Theater. Other shows from the 60's that I can remember are: Bewitched, Hazel, Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, Petticoat Junction. The list wouldn't be complete without The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible. Who could forget The Munsters, Gilligan's Island, The Adams Family, The Twilight Zone, Lost in Space, Star Trek, Have Gun Will Travel, Wagon Train, Raw Hide. The list could go on and on.
All of these memories seem so long ago. Like a lot of other small towns across the country, Cordova has all but gone away. The saw mills, cotton mill, brick plants, and most of the coal mines have gone out of business. The final blow for Cordova was a massive tornado that destroyed the last of the standing buildings, leaving behind only empty sidewalks.
Even though the buildings are gone, the community is still there. It is really nice to go back and see old friends and to talk about the good ole days. It never fails that someone will always begin by saying, "I can remember when...."