The expansive lawn and black Labrador in the photograph may have very well belonged to another family if it were not for that tall thin man puffing on a cigarette. Considering my age, it is not surprisingly I don’t remember them.
I remember our next house. And our dog. He was a beagle, who just so happened to be named Gaylord, but who did not as far as I know look kind of lazy or act kind of crazy. However, he did go missing one hunting season. My dad always thought he was stolen. Since beagles notoriously follow scents, one will never know.
That my early childhood years were spent on consumer goods is also evident from the fact that I remember the daily pilgrimage to the mail box to check whether the Toucan Sam I had sent in for, presumably with countless Fruit Loop box tops, had arrived.
While my neighborhood was only 12 miles from the downtown of a large city, looking around one never would have imagined this. We lived on a dirt road and across the street was a field where we played baseball. In our backyard ran a creek, and one Easter we got ducklings which we named after the Monkees, and which grew and were healthy until they were most unceremoniously devoured by our neighbor’s dog, Bozo. There was a small pond up the street on the corner of which was the Catholic Church we went to on Sundays and the parochial grade school my siblings attended.
Not 10 minutes away was a very steep hill we would toboggan down in winter. To get there we passed a wooden fenced area with grazing horses and a huge barn. One day it caught fire, and I can still see the clouds of smoke that appeared in the sky and feel the heat of the flames devouring the structure.
Turn! Turn! Turn! and And I Love Her never fail to transport me back to these times:
It’s as if I’m taking a trip in The Time Tunnel: