Sounds of youth bring up nostalgic memories

Sounds of youth bring up nostalgic memories
The three of us were sitting around the dining room table when the subject of what I was going to write about in my 1,211th weekly column came up.

Daughter Jill said: "Why don't' you do something with sounds of your youth?" Wife Phyllis agreed � and I nodded assent. (That's the only thing to do when a couple of females make suggestions!)

Phyllis started it out by reminiscing about her younger days on the farm. She told of the clanging milk buckets, the thudding of hand-picked corn ears against the wagon's backboard and the unmistakable jingles of horse-drawn machinery.


Jill remembered the steam locomotives of passenger trains and the conductor shouting "All aboard!" She then did a pretty good imitation of a propeller-driven airplane zooming skyward.

I got into the act, too, by calling to mind the klaxon horns of Model Ts, the static on the Crosley radio when we were tuning in Amos 'n Andy, and the ringing of the recess bell in the hands of the dear departed Sister.

I also remembered the steam engines and how they jiggled the house when the trains went by. And I recalled how the drive wheels of the locomotives spun on the track covered with crushed grasshoppers.

Before long we were reconstructing the many sounds of our youthful years. I'm older than they are, so I could think of a lot more things that made unusual noises than they could.

For instance, I told about the bowling alley where I got my Social Security number back in the mid-1930s. The lanes were so poor that you could hear the balls go bumpity-bump as they made their way towards the pins that I was setting.

Then there were the carnival barkers who droned on and on about the wonderful things you could see inside the tent � if you had the necessary two-bits (which was a lot of money in those days).

We talked, too, about the scratch-scratch-scratch of wooden matches being used to start the fire in the kitchen range. And the sloshing of clothes in the Maytag washing machine as they whirled about in the laundering process. (We agreed that sheets going through the wringer don't make enough noise to qualify for our little sound game).

Phyllis brought up the roar of a conch seashell when it was held up to one's ear. "It sounded like the waves of the ocean crashing against the shore," she said.

She also recalled the dusty din of a rug beater as it was pounded on a carpet hung on the wash line.

Jill reminisced about her playground days: about how the swings creaked; and the merry-go-round was not silent when she rode it.

Her mention of the merry-go-round caused me to remember the carousels of the past and the strident cacophony of the circus calliopes I heard when the parades went by.

The sound of a wooden bat meeting a ball � as opposed to the clink of aluminum of later vintage was discussed, as was the click of marbles as the shooter propelled an agate in a game of rings.

I mentioned the booming voice of Joe Burgum as he cheered the athletes of yesteryear � but the gals never heard of him, so Joe was not included among our noisemakers.

Needless to say, it was a good way to make conversation. It is far better than religion or politics; besides the latter always gets Phyllis stirred up.

Let's face it. The sounds of our youth was a great idea for a column. I should take the girls' suggestions more often!

� 2006 Robert F. Karolevitz

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