A house is just a structure but a home, to me, defines love. I’m not so naïve to know that some people didn’t grow up in a loving home and I’m truly sorry for them. All of my childhood memories were made in one home on Rural Route 4 (now Rudder Road) in Salem and mostly they are of good times.

Being an only child, I spent a lot of time playing by myself but I also had neighbors and cousins that lucky for me were neighbors, too. They filled in the gaps. My dad was also one of my favorite companions.

I remember playing in the basement when I was little while my dad watched TV from the orange vinyl sofa that sat against the paneled wall. (Remember this was the late 60’s – so the sofa was very hip.)

I had a metal kitchen set that a lot of collectors would kill for today and from this kitchen I served my dad many imaginary meals in which he would ooh and awl over. I was, to the best of my knowledge, the best imaginary meal maker he had ever met. He always made me feel like I was the best in everything I did.

I remember putting up the silver metal Christmas tree that featured a color wheel spotlight that added ambiance to the downstairs. Every Christmas Eve he would take me to town to look at Christmas lights while Santa (aka Mother) delivered the presents.

As I got older, my room became my chosen hangout. I had all the necessities; color television with my choice of four or five (on a clear day) TV channels, stereo with a wide variety of 45’s, 8-tracks and albums and a telephone inconveniently connected to the wall with a cord. (At the time, I didn’t know this was an inconvenience – I just stretched the cord, lounged on my bed and talked for hours.)

Most summer days, I had the luxury of having the house to myself while my parents worked. I could get up when I wanted, watch game shows and soap operas (‘cause that’s all that was available on daytime TV) and eat what was available.

If I got tired of being alone and I often did (I have always been a social butterfly), I would simply walk the path to my cousins’ house. Sun tanning was almost always on the menu as was bologna sandwiches that I have to admit always tasted better at Aunt Carolyn’s house. We also played a lot of board games like Life and on rainy days, Monopoly. We were a clever bunch when together and at some point a Salem Monopoly game was even invented.

My parents and I played games at home sometimes, too. My mother introduced me to a card game called, “I doubt it.” The premise was to rapidly, one by one lay down cards in numerical order, which of course always led to someone lying because it was an impossible task. The goal was to be the first one out of cards but if you got caught by the shout of “I doubt it” with the wrong card, you won the deck or if you were called out in error the person doubting you won all the cards on the table and the play restarted.

The biggest result was usually lots of laughter and my mother being watched like a hawk as she liked to lay down four or five cards as her “one” card.

The favorite outside game, I guess, was croquet. I still have the wooden set that we used intact with the exception of the orange mallet that is broken, probably because I used it to win so many games.

Daily, I drive by my childhood home in order to get to my current home and I guess that is the reason for my recent reflections. That, and the fact that I am getting old and my mind wanders from the task at hand ALOT.

I only hope that my children look back upon their formative years on Blue River Church Road with as much fondness as I do at my one and only childhood home.


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