The other day I saw something I hadn't seen in many years. Several young boys were actually playing marbles, an art I thought had long since been lost to modern, tech-oriented children. I was delighted to see the tradition still survived, at least in this particular neighborhood. As I drove by I wondered if they still coveted 'clearsies' and 'swirls' over 'cat's eyes and 'aggies'. Did they have the big 'poppers' also? I remember having a big ball bearing that I never dared to use, but it sure looked good in the marble bag.
When I got home I couldn't help but think about some of the other things I miss from those ' good old days '. Penny candy, such as mint juleps that were actually TWO for a penny. A round of miniature golf for 75 cents. ' Snakes '- those little black things that when lit with a match would grow into a long curling ash. Huge pretzel sticks for a penny, the kind that were completely coated with salt granules the size of BBs. Good old fashioned rock candy; no coloring, no flavoring, no stick; just a bagful of pure crystalized sugar. Oh, and more penny-stuff, various wax containers filled with artificially colored and flavored liquids that were nasty tasting enough to make chewing the wax itself seem like a treat.
Tricycles that were made of metal and had rubber wheels and didn't sound like a freight train going down the driveway. Doing wheelies on 'sting-ray' bikes that had 'banana seats' and 'sissie bars'. Regular dough pizzas that had the small thick slices of pepperoni that curled up when cooked, packaged between two plain cardboard 'pie plates' that were stapled together. And to wash down the pizza, how about some 'Fizzies' -- those tablets that you dropped into a glass of water like Alka-Seltzer and ended up with what was essentially a glass of carbonated Kool-Aid. And lets not forget those big red hot cinnamon jawbreakers that you could barely fit in your mouth and you had to keep moving back and forth or the skin of your inner cheek would start to peel. And, God forbid, candy cigarettes and bubble gum cigars! EEK! And for REAL personal danger, remember taking several rolls of cap-gun caps and slamming a brick down on them so your ears rang like you just fired off a Howitzer? Talk about good old fashioned fun, huh?
Last but certainly not least, three, count 'em, THREE solid hours of wonderfully violent Warner Brothers cartoons every Saturday morning, all of which you'd seen countless times but were still great. And oh yeah, let's not forget Johnny Quest at 7:00 p.m. weeknights. A great action/adventure cartoon where a lot of the bad guys actually DIED in exciting and well deserved ways such as getting crushed by a flying speedboat, getting absorbed by a large, invisible blob of sentient plasma energy, or getting eaten by their own Komodo dragons because the only one who could control them was a big guy named Sumi, who was always pointing and saying " IGUA ! ", whatever that meant. Kids today don't have a clue what a good cartoon IS. ' Power Puff Girls' just doesn't cut it. I mean, no one EVER gets an anvil dropped on them in that!
Well, it's been fun indulging in my trip down memory lane, but I've got to go now. I feel a sudden urge to go out and see how high I can bounce a superball, launch a water-filled air-pumped rocket, and fly a balsa-wood airplane (the high-tech version, of course, with the propeller and large rubber band; this is 2004, after all).