As I write this column the wind is rattling the trees, and I’m gathering the ambition to go out and scoop the snow off the walk for the umpteenth time this spring. Gee, life sure is exciting here in central Iowa. With 78 Iowa winters under my belt, you’d think I would be used to crazy weather by now.
The main difference between the forecasters of today and those of the past is the new breed always looking for bad weather so that they can call it record-breaking.
Truth is, I’ve never been more ready to see winter finally leave. It’s been as unenjoyable as any I can remember. Must be my age.
Speaking of age, remember how the last flake of snow had barely fallen when our mothers were knee-deep in spring cleaning?
If there was one thing kids of today and kids back in my generation have in common it would probably be disastrous bedrooms.
I can remember Mom reminding me, morning after morning, how I needed to break a trail through my stuff so that she could get in my room far enough to do some cleaning.
Back in those days, it wasn’t piles of clothing cluttering up the place, it was piles of junk. Well, that’s not necessarily true either. It was junk to Mom, but treasures to me.
Few kids in the early 1950s had enough clothes to leave them lying around very long, but we could always find plenty of stuff to collect.
Actually, you might say we were heavily into recycling. It’d go something like this:
Each spring our mothers would go on a cleaning crusade. We were smart enough not to fight it. Instead, the kids in our part of town would each clean their rooms and haul all the excess stuff out and put it in a pile by the alley. This was long before garbage pickup, so every family had their own junk pile behind their house.
Shortly after the annual cleanup was done, most mothers would go about their business and forget all about their kids’ rooms.
This meant open season on junk piles for all of the kids.
Each night after school, we’d cruise the alleys of town looking for treasure. It was hard telling what we’d come up with.
What was junk to a neighbor might be just what a kid was looking for to complete a project.
Nothing missed our scrutiny. Old water heaters became space ships. Old tires became swings. Old orange crates became pigeon pens.
Problem was, the more we collected, the larger the junk piles behind our homes grew. That didn’t bother Mom, but Dad would get a little uptight.
It wasn’t that he didn’t like junk, it was just that he knew who would eventually end up hauling it to the landfill.
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.