More than the taste of a great burger and better than the typical hot dog memories of potato salad and slices of watermelon; and more than this are the details of times from long ago. These are the occasions that took place in little towns and backyard barbecues.
This is where moments such as the 4th of July celebrations took place. This is where youth was as innocent as our young towns where, as kids, we prepared for a nighttime event of flashes and colorful bursts of rockets and explosions of sparkles that boomed across the sky.
More than the belly-full of food or the colorful tongues from ice-pops or snow cones and more than the familiar sound of a jingle which came to us by way of the ice-cream truck; and more than the baseball cards or different packs of chewing gum and candies delivered by the ice-cream man who made his rounds down the side streets; and of course, more than all of this was our youthful existence and the remnants of early memories. I contain this in a small jar of hopeful glass. This is where I store the satisfaction of memories such as running through sprinklers during the innocence of a summer’s youth.
And more than this and the young version of our life; there was the existence of our family’s hierarchy, such as our parents, aunts, uncles and, of course, the matriarch and the patriarch of our family; such as our grandparents. Or even this; even on a more equal dialogue; more than any of the above is the combined memories of our family, gathered and happy, and the connection to our youthful cousins who would arrive at gatherings such as these.
I would like to offer this as a vision which, of course, will take a little effort on your part. I would like to say this here and now; that memory in itself is one dimensional. However, give our memories sound. Say like, imagine the sound of your Aunt’s voice or the chuckle from a Grandmother or the soothing touch from a Grandfather’s hand. Include this in a vision from your younger memories. Envision the surroundings and allow the music you heard at the time to take place in your head.
In which case, the memory takes on the depth of sound – and now, add the smells from way back. Add the smells from the barbeque and the grill or the food – and now add the scenery from where you lived to color this memory.
Close your eyes for a second. Add the faces and the scene; add the outdoor chairs from your youth and the innocence of admiration. Add the love for the family who you rarely saw back then and we never see each other now. Add this all together and give your memory the depth it deserves.
Suffice to say that these are the memories which build our youth. Safe to say these are the reminders from where our heroes came from. To me, these are the remnants of my family who’ve gone off to a place where the mail cannot reach.
But there’s more…
More than the pizza from Rose’s up the street and more than the late-night horror movies and sleep-overs; this is how the parties began when we were just little kids.
This is where the prank phone calls took place. This is where young kids built their little blanket forts and tried to stay up late enough to watch all of Saturday Night Live.
This is where the food came in from places like Dominos Pizza, which used to be good back then. Not to mention the pies used to be free if the delivery took longer than a half-hour. Regardless to whether the pizza came on time, there were the Pringles and the pretzels. The Wise Barbecue potato chips and the Cheetos or the cheese puffs; and like hungry little animals; this is what we had and when we ate as much as we possibly could.
There is something to be said about the foods from our youth and while I say this, even if our choices and stages of life were different; still, there is a wholehearted explosion of nostalgia that takes place when thinking about times like this.
I am far from those times. I am certainly older now and there are times when my age is a frightful understanding. To me, all of this seems like it was a different lifetime ago. To me, this all seems like something that happened in a movie and I was more like a viewer or spectator than a live member of the cast. Maybe this is true; maybe this was another lifetime.
Maybe these memories or bursts of nostalgia are teased by the visions from when we were young. Or better yet, these are memories from when our parents were still young too and our towns were much younger as well – or maybe even innocent.
Life was different. The world was different and certainly the fashions were different. And so was the music. There was a different level of respect towards each other. The word community seemed to be more meaningful to us back then. But then again, I admit that I might be biased.
But yet, I digress.
There is only one chance at youth the same as there is only one chance at life; therefore, as we grow or move on into the later stages of our life, it is the lofty versions of our memories and the highlighted recollections of heavenly regard which allows us to keep alive those who were there at this early station in our lives.
In the history of hugs, I admit that there has never been a hug that could be matched or duplicated to reenact the hugs from our Grandparents; nor is there a smile so warm or so meaningful that it could match the smiles from upper levels of our family.
And me, I was the young one of my cousins. I was the young one in my family and though I might have been born, there are pictures of family gatherings in photo albums. These are moments that took place before my cognizant existence.
Everyone was there. Everyone was at the party. Even my cousin Robbie. More than this, more than the people who used to be in our extended family and more than the celebrations were the tables and chairs and the kid’s tables and chairs, in which case, we sat together. We gathered as family or as an unbreakable unit, and as part of my memory which I cannot and will not ever forfeit – even if delirium should come and take place, I will never allow myself to forget this version of my “wonder years.”
I remember the summer of my mid-teens and a corner in Jamaica on Archer Avenue. This was just outside of the post office. I remember the older Dominican man who strolled by with a shopping cart. He wore all white with a large white hat to keep the sun from his eyes.
There was a huge block of ice in his cart which he shaved and placed the shavings in a little cup. Then he poured flavored syrups, such as cherry or pineapple, or my favorite, piña colada.
Piña colada was the best. . .
It’s been a while since I snacked like I used to.
I wonder though. Do they still sell Ring Dings?
Those were great! Those and Yodels and an occasional Twinkie and the entire slew of Hostess cakes and cupcakes.
I have to say it here. It was a good time to be young.
I don’t know if the youth of today can relate. Or maybe they can. But who knows?
Maybe the kids today do understand. They’ll just have to wait until they’re older to recognize it.
Know what I mean?