Saturday, December 17, 2011

Skate 'Til the Sidewalk Ends

When I was a child, my little sister and I always got the same thing. We were very close in age, and about the same size--she grew to a nice height, and I remained shorter, so that we were about the same size. Mother dressed us as twins, same clothes, same shoes, same hair. Uh, no, not the same hair exactly. My little sister had naturally curly hair and I had naturally straight hair. In order for us to look more alike, then, by age four I had permanents on a regular basis. Otherwise, my short hair looked like Buster Brown, while my sister's short hair was all curly and cute. There is no justice in this world.
Christmas was always good, although we spent many of my young years moving about, transient, if you were, following oil camps. Still, my mother did so well on the one income, and managed to give us a good Christmas. I suppose we bordered on poor, but we sure didn't look like it and had everything we needed.
I remember getting a doll every Christmas, and what I got, my sister got. There were the bride dolls. Mine had blond hair, my little sister's had dark hair, and she proceeded to dunk her doll's head in mud so that it lost all its hair. I still have my doll to this day.
We got bride and groom dolls, baby dolls, Margaret O'Brian dolls, baby buggies, cap pistols in a holster, bandanas to wrap around our necks, jeans, but no boots. One year, we found tiny boxes up in the small Christmas tree that contained little gold lockets. Oh, I loved my locket. Whatever happened to it?
For years, we got packages of panties. Yes, those folded and wrapped tightly in a cellophane package, colored and slick and very pretty. As we got older, we always laughed about the fact we knew one gift we'd receive--a package of new panties.
All through elementary school, we wished for bicycles. We never got those, and I have thought perhaps they were too expensive. But would be difficult to move with two bikes, since everything we owned for all those years had to fit into the trunk of a 1940 Ford for the next move to another oil camp.
In fifth grade, though, we got skates. Remember those old metal skates with a key? I placed my foot on the skate, and used the key to tighten the clamps around the toes of my shoes and the heels. Now, I was mobile, and that began a new life of seeing the world on my skates.
There was a problem with that plan, though. I could only skate on a sidewalk, and the sidewalks invariably did not go very far in small West Texas towns. We had a big space of concrete behind the house where as many as four cars could park--if need be. I skated around and around there, then on the driveway to the front sidewalk. To the right, the sidewalk ended past the house next door. To the left, the sidewalk ended past two houses.
Oh, I loved those skates! Even though I fell sometimes and skinned my knees, I still adored them. I yearned to skate farther and farther, but one can only skate 'til the sidewalk ends. It was frustrating, stifling, even, and sometimes maddening that I could go no farther. I dreamed of soaring along a very long sidewalk, maybe across town! It was never to be.
 Maybe if we got everything we ever wanted, our yearnings and desires would diminish. Then we would stagnate, stop growing and learning, and become soft and lazy. And dull.
What was the best Christmas gift you ever received?
Merry Christmas to all!


  1. I just loved this post, Celia. Thanks for the memories. :) happy holidays.

  2. Celia, you brought back such memories! My best Christmas present - a streamlined tricycle. Little fenders over the wheels.

    Roller skates - my grandmother lived in town and had a sidewalk. Otherwise, no place to skate. I skinned many a knee (and tore the knees out of pants). Always with my brother, 4 years younger but a constant companion.

    Bicycle! How I wanted one! Mom said they were too dangerous. In High School I bought one and took it home. Mom said I couldn't keep it but Dad stood up for once. Bought one for my brother, too.

    Thanks for a lovely post.

    -- Dac

  3. Celia,

    I too got a doll every Christmas until the age of 12. My last doll was a bride doll. I still have the slightly tattered beauty! Why? Who knows.

    Our generation was blessed with the comfort of feeling we had it all, though most of our simple gifts back then would would seem much less today.

    Have a wonderful season!

    Nancy Kay

  4. Ah, Celia, the memories this blog brought back. The dolls, the locket, the skates, the lack of a longed for bike. The only thing I would add is books. And I think the year Little Women was under the tree, it became my all-time favorite gift. But white boots is a close second. Thanks for sharing this. Happy holidays to you and all who read this.

  5. Celia, I truly love this post. So wonderfully descriptive--it will stay in my mind when I think of you!

    I didn't have a sister, but I had Mom. I think that at times, Mom relived her childhood through me. I had a pink training bike for my first bicycle. Mom taught me to ride. I vividly remember that day! She ran along beside me as I rode back and forth until she was sure that I was okay on my own. Mom loved to ride bikes (horses too). She was very artistic and theatrical, and she studied tap, ballet, music, and art. She was also double-jointed and somewhat accident-prone, but I will save those stories for another day. I outgrew "Little Pinkie", and I soon set my eyes on a full-sized, royal blue beauty from our local hardware store. "The Western Flyer"--complete with front basket, double back basket, headlight, and horn! When I came downstairs on Christmas morning and saw "Big Blue" in the living room, you can bet my squeals woke everybody up! I was a chubby kid, but I was always tall for my age, and I had long, strong legs. Nobody out rode me and "Big Blue"--nobody! I have lived in Virginia all but two years of my life. We lived in Nevada at the time that I started the first grade, and that is where Mom taught me to ride "Little Pinkie". We moved back to Virginia, and I got "Big Blue", and then we lived in Florida the year that I was in the fifth grade. Riding our bikes together was one of the few real compatible and happy times between Mom and me. Florida is where we reached the zenith of our riding. We would together for hours, late at night, under the street lights of our very nice, quite neighborhood. Looking back, it was remarkable that no one ever commented on our nightly bike antics. Mom and I not only rode our bikes, we performed on them! Yes, we virtually danced with our bikes. Amazing! So much fun, so much energy--nothing else ever compared to that time. I still have "Big Blue", and she still looks good. I haven't ridden her in a very long time, but she's waiting....and remembering.

  6. Celia, beautiful post. My sister and I also received identical gifts each year. How we loved our Little Women dolls, Barbie dolls and troll dolls. But our favorite was our side-by-side playhouses, wooden planks with plastic partitions as room dividers. The people had magnets beneath them and were guided through rooms by magnetic wands. Very clever and an excellent tool for hand/eye coordination. Thanks for the memory. Merry Christmas and lots of love.

  7. Oh Celia, this blog was right there in my childhood. My sister and I are one year apart--I was the younger one but we both had curly hair. People thought we were twins, too, and, yep, Mom dressed us alike. Like you and your sister, we pretty much got the same gifts only in different colors--mine was always red and hers blue.
    One year we got microscopes (I have no clue why but obviously one of my dad's ideas). At first, I thought--what the heck is this for--but later, it got to be my best gift. We made microbes by putting straw in water and letting nature take its course as different microbes grew and changed. Great fun. Although mine broke down from overuse, I still have my dad's and it's among my most treasured possessions.
    Great Blog, Celia.

  8. I'm so jealous--I wanted a Margaret O'Brien doll and never got one. I did get one that looked similar when I was six and I still have that doll.

  9. I too had a sister who received the same gifts. Odd how parents think similar gifts will reduce jealousy. My best gift was the dog I was promised for Christmas but didn't get until spring. I waited for months for the mommy dog to have her puppies. He gave me joy for many years.

  10. Celia,
    GREAT MEMORIES!!! My dad worked in the oil fields, too, but by the time I came along, they were pretty well settled...until my sr. year of high school when we had to move from Oklahoma to WEST VIRGINIA!

    Like you, there were always certain things we could count on getting. For us, it was a new nightgown. Mom made them a lot of the time, and there was one that I think of with such fond memories--it was red and white flannel--beautiful and warm all at the same time! We always got a doll of some kind, a tradition that my mom's parents, poor as they were, had kept up for her and her sisters when they were growing up. I remember the one present I DIDN'T get that I wanted so much. It was a "PEBBLES" doll (from the Flintstones). And my best friend down the street from me got one! But I got a derned ol' baby doll. LOL

    Now to the skates. I LOVED MY SKATES. I had a lanyard I wore around my neck with my skate key on it. We skated all around our neighbor's house. She was one of the founders of our little town, had come there in a covered wagon. She and her husband built a "mansion" (he was an atty.--specialized in oil, which had just been discovered)and she would just have a fit when we skated! We were afraid of her, but we skated anyhow. What a scary old woman she was--we thought she was a witch, but that feeling of freedom couldn't be given up at any price.

    The gift that sticks out in my mind was "Baby First Step"--it was a doll that had batteries and you could flip a switch and make her "walk"...if conditions were just right. Great post!


  11. My barbie doll when I was nine. I mentioned it to my daughter in law two years ago when we were shopping, and I saw the anniversary (very expensive) edition. She got it for me for Christmas!! I still get tears thinking of the moments I unwrapped both of my barbies.

  12. What fun memories of your childhood, Celia! I envy your clarity. My Christmases are mostly a blur, except for a bad one I won't mention, but oddly, the one gift I remember best of all was one my little brother got.

    It was a kit to make jello-like bugs and worms and spiders. You selected which color goo, poured it in the mold, baked it in a real oven, and voila a deluxe bug collection.

    We were allowed to open one present without the grownups waking up, so we opened his and made all the bugs first thing Christmas morning. That was so much fun. Oddly, I can't remember what we did with all the critters.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!


  13. Rose--I appreciate your visit. Thanks so much!

  14. Dac--I never had a tricyle..boohoo.
    Our grandsons live on their bicyles--yes, my mother thought they were dangerous, too. Those decades were so different.
    Merry Christmas!

  15. NANCY KAY--I see you understand. Yes, those years were quite different, and the gifts we got would probably apall children today.Thanks for sharing your memories, and Merry Christmas!

  16. Well, you could have been my twin, you know. I never got a book--they weren't a big item in our house. But when I discovered the library downtown when I was in fourth grade, I became a voracious reader. It's not taught, is it? It's innate--or not.
    Merry Christmas!

  17. Virginia--I'll answer yours on SOTW.

  18. SHARON--I can tell you're younger than I. Those things came along about the time my daughter needed them. The Barbie dolls were the tip off! Thanks so much for sharing your Christmas memories. Those are things no one can ever take away from us.
    Merry Christmas!

  19. My lands, could have been my sister. Well, my older sister is "Sarah."
    I think many mothers dressed their children alike because patterns were expensive, and with one patterns, my mother could not only make an outfit for both of us, she could use that same one again and again and create a different look.
    The economy, then, wasn't so good, either.At least in our home.
    At that age, I'd never heard of a microscope. Wow. I'm impressed by that! Merry Christmas..

  20. Caroline--funny, we wanted a Shirley Temple doll, but they were too expensive. So we got the MO doll. I didn't like it at first, but grew to love it--I still have it, too--with all her clothes.
    She is missing one shoe, though.
    Merry Christmas

  21. Barbara--I agree. I didn't mind, but I think my little sister began to resent it. That was many decades ago..I guess it was just easier to buy the same thing. I know Mother order some things from the Sears catalog--easier all around.
    Merry Christmas!

  22. Cheryl--I'll answer yours on SOTW.

  23. MAGGIE--you would be the one who wanted the kit to make bugs! Funny. Sometimes I wonder about my vivid memories--I've heard some of my friends say they cannot remember a thing from their growing up years. Odd.
    Merry Christmas down in Georgia!

  24. Celia, what a heartwarming post. I do remember those types of skates. I think my mother gave me her pair when I was a girl in the 70's and then in the 80's I got a more modern pair.

    I can understand where you're coming from with the panties. When I was kid growing up in the 70's, 80's, we got stuff we "needed" for Christmas - which was usually clothes and sneakers or jackets. Maybe we got 1 toy, but it was about need as opposed to "want."

    Nowadays people I see people giving more according to "want-" and want means toys.

    I remember getting a favorite toy as a little girl. I do remember being older and getting a Milienum Falcon for Christmas. It was the late 1970's and I must have been around 11 or 12. Star Wars was big around that time.

    Skates - yes, I enjoyed skating and when in line skates came out, I got into them too, but I was much older.


  25. Steph--yes, we often got more things we needed than wanted. Although, we did get the dolls and the cowboy stuff later on. I think less is better...we valued one or two things. I really hate to see parents just pile on the gifts.
    Skates are still popular-one grandson has in-line skates and a helmet, and he leaves the house and I have no idea where he goes. He might come back an hour later, just barely breathing hard, ready for something to eat...thanks for your Christmas memories...I love to read these! Merry Christmas.

  26. Celia, I'm glad I'm the last one to comment. Thisay no one will read my comment. The only gift I received every Christmas was a book. I cherished my books and kept until I got married and moved. Once I asked for a bicycle. Never got it. Too expensive and too dangerous. One year I received a doll. I hated it and gave it to my sister, who was happy to have two. Instead I asked for a ball. My grandparents didn't believe in Christmas gifts. As a result, I lavished my kids and grandchildren with toys and Christmas gifts.

  27. Great blog, Celia. My parents, too, mixed what we needed with what we wanted, and there was always a package of knickers under my tree, too. LOL! I got a Baby Boo doll for my first Christmas. I still have her. The youngest nephew says she's creepy and hides her in the closet whenever he comes to visit.

    The Christmas I remember most, though, is the year Pop gave Mom a new washer/dryer for Christmas. We played with those boxes for weeks--until we put my little brother in one, put pillows all around him and "mailed" him down the steps. Mom took the boxes from us that day.

  28. MONA--I'm truly sorry for your Christmases. I can understand why you lavish so much on your grandchildren. People do different's odd, sometimes.
    I think many parents during those years thought a bicyle was dangerous. Well, they can be, that's for sure.
    So, you go buy those dolls and things and have a ball!
    Merry Christmas.

  29. KEENA--you tell such fun stories. All kids, I think, love the boxes. Mine did. We'd take Audrey's dolls out of the box to place under the tree, and the child invariably wanted the box, too.
    You know the "box" was the toy of the year for the toy museum...about five years ago. The stick was also chosen one year.
    Merry Christmas...