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A little then and now about growing up

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Column by Jeff D'Alessio

By Jeff D'Alessio

Where I lived as a child, life always seemed boring. Sound familiar parents of youngsters in Hardin County?

But now at 54 years of age and thankful to wake up every morning to meet a new day, I am filled with memories from growing up in that "boring'' town that left an indelible mark on my life and still leaves a smile on my face and in my mind.

It's really just some childhood memories that at the time seemed like nothing more than every day life. Now, decades later, little did I know that fond memories were being created one crazy moment at a time.

You know how frantic it gets when an ice cream truck would come into a neighborhood with its music blaring? In Cornwall, Ontario, we had the chip wagon coming down the street with a bell ringing at night.

Chips in most of Canada are not what you may think. Forget Frito Lay, we had real, greasy French fries. We'd pour some vinegar on them and once the fries were done, we'd chew on the bottom of the cardboard box to get a little vinegar out.

Crazy kids, I know.

Or how about the taste of Juicy Fruit gum or the gum in the pack of baseball cards? The cards would take a backseat to getting that pink piece of gum with a little white coating in your mouth before seeing which players were in your packet this time.

Or listening to baseball games on the radio because there weren't always 20 games a week on television. Try three or four, if you were lucky.

Or the sight of your mom grilling out chicken by the side of the house and soaking it in barbecue sauce. I never have met anyone else who loved barbecue chicken like she did.

Or the smell of charcoal burning and that whoosh you would hear with flames rising from the grill when lighter fluid would hit the burning coals.

Or sitting in your parents' pea-colored Chevelle as rain fell at night. If you were really lucky, which means you hadn't been yelled at for a day or two, you might be able to convince your mom to let you listen to a baseball or hockey game while the rain pelted off the car. That's a win-win!

Or fishing in a pond or a river.

Or going to bed with your window open and falling asleep to hearing passing cars drive on your street.

Or hanging out at the corner store and drinking lemonade after a long baseball practice and having indigestion by the time you pedaled your 10-speed about halfway home.

Or buying corduroy pants with money you earned from your Montreal Gazette paper route. They were Levi's and they were gray and chocolate. Yep, you read this right, chocolate.

Or gravy on chips. Remember, where I'm from, those are French fries.

Or chasing grasshoppers or playing hide-go-seek at night and running to the street light until you were forced into the house.

Or having a black and white television with about 12 channels, or the challenge of putting a disc into the middle of a .45 record.

Or listening to Casey Kasem on the radio for "American Top 40'' on Saturdays.

Or the burgers at Sneaky Petes.

Or baseball cards clothes-pinned into the spokes of your two-speed, gold-colored bike to get a flapping sound.

Or how you couldn't wait to grow up and move on.

Looks like my childhood wasn't as boring as I once thought.

Jeff D'Alessio is news editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at 270-505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com.