I grew up in Nineteen Seventy Something. I know I sound extra old when I reminisce about my good old days, but hey, I’ve been somewhat immersed in that time period. Writing a book will do that. The Delta is an interesting place for me. It’s the place I feel comfortable and at home, the place that fits me and knows me best. For so long it was my entire world—our house on Highway 140, that yard my sister and I mowed every single week, those fields that represented our livelihood, our clouds floating above it all.
Change in technology and social culture sort of sneak up on us. I notice the difference most vividly when I’m home in the Delta because that’s where life was so simple and basic in the beginning.
I had this radio…
Somehow I think we’ve lost something now that we can Shazam a song and download it in an instant. Of course I love Shazaming a song and downloading it in an instant (and I don’t miss that radio in the least), but still…there was a certain spirit involved in spending weeks and weeks trying to understand a certain song lyric and not being able to play it on repeat.
Am I the only person who thought the lyrics to Blinded By the Light included “wrapped up like a douche”? (I had no idea what douche meant, but I thought it had to do with s-e-x and wouldn’t sing that word very loud.)
Yesterday was my sister’s birthday. She’s 51. In a few days, my cousin Lesa turns 52, and for a few months, I’ll still be 53. When we were kids, during those few months we felt even closer than normal, and it was a fun thing, our stair step ages. We had soooo many adventures growing up together, and yes we played board games and barbie dolls, but mostly we played outside—rain or shine, cold or hot. No matter.
We had lots of unusual and imaginative playgrounds and left many a footprint in the washed out gullies along Little River. Trailers of freshly picked cotton? Those were the best for tunneling and tumbling. The stuffy attic made a secret hideout lit only by the sun slipping through the eaves. Aunt Virgie’s chicken coop was a favorite too, shady and cool on a blistering summer day. And how about a simple fort made of freshly laundered sheets pulled straight from the clothesline? Easy, uncomplicated, I wanna go back, if only for a little while.
In Nineteen Seventy Something even searching for answers was a treasure hunt. The easiest (and less reliable) method was to poll friends on the playground. Webster was a good source, too, and everyone had at least one dictionary in the house. If the dictionary didn’t provide enough information, encyclopedias usually knew all. Beyond that, the card catalog provided the ultimate research tool with every scrap of knowledge organized on individual cards in alpha, subject, and author order. And when none of that worked, the simplest solution was to ask the librarian for help.
Librarians held every answer in their brains and what they didn’t know, they knew how to find.
Each summer day we awoke with only one question—what will we do today? And while our world didn’t extend much beyond our own cotton fields and rarely beyond Mississippi County, in so many ways it was bigger and grander because of our unlimited imaginations and the excitement we added to it.
Every day brought adventure.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Blinded by the Light
Mark Wills, 19 Seven Somethin’