Daze Gone By


camping 74

I was watching an episode of Benny Hill, tonight and I thought of my dad. He loved this show. He’d sit in his favorite chair and watch this show, while just cracking up. I didn’t think it was that funny back then, but now, watching, I was very amused. It was another reminder of my father and his own sense of humor.

I began to think back to my own youth and the days with my friends. We were straight out of, ‘That 70’s Show. Sometimes, I thought they must have modeled it after our lives. So similar. Even the state of Wisconsin, was chosen for the setting.

I had different people in my life for different seasons. And I was fond of all of them. But for this early 70’s, I was particularly fond.

It seemed I was just discovering so much. I had more challenges in my life,than most of my friends. But I learned to adapt. For example, I didn’t have a car until, I was 19. I rode my bike, everywhere. I loved my bike. My father bought it for me, and it was so light. I could pop the tires off the front and the back. And when I arrived at a party, I could easily fit it into someones car. i usually rode places, with my friend, Heidi. She lived a few miles away from me, and she didn’t have a car either.  My girlfriend, Grace, was joking, that I seemed to get around everywhere. She was amazed that I knew the streets so well, and rode to the lake front multiple times. This was a jaunt, and it sure beat the days, in high school, when we would hitch rides everywhere. Heidi and I hitched a ride by our house once, and these guys scared the crap out of us. It was a huge ghetto-cruiser. I think an Impala, or something. I just remembered, it was all pimped out. After getting in, the guy looked at his buddy, and flipped the locks down. I had a vivid recall of the big, silver globe, locks. When they went, “Click.” The saw us give each other a panicked look, and they started laughing. When we realized they were just trying to scare us. They chatted with us to our stop, and unlocked the doors.

When we were in high school, we would have groups of us hitching rides together. One day, my friend Carol, and I were with a few other girlfriends. We had two guys with us, and one, Frank Hyack, had beautiful long hair. He turned around with his back to the traffic and stuck his thumb out. Yep, in short order, a van stopped. We were laughing as we came running up, and the guy driving realized, he’d been duped.

Another night, I was with a group of girls, and a guy picked us up. He was so drunk. He had a case of beer in the back and we had to put our legs up on it. We were so terrified, as he was driving, and just told us to let us out, miles ahead of our destination. We talked about the nerve this guy had to stop and pick us up! I have to laugh, now, at how stupid we were, and thank God, for protecting us in our stupidity. But those days, seemed more innocent. It’s not to say that they actually were. Even now, on the rare occasion, that I see someone doing this, I’m shocked. I imagine, I sound like a typical mom. “I can’t believe a person would do that, in this day in age!” I say. “I mean times were different when I was young.” Come to think of it, I sound just like my mom, right now. She is always saying that.

We heard about so many terrible things happening to people. A friend of my brother’s, named Hillary, was picked up by some guys. She was thrown out of a car, and she was found. She later ended up in a nursing home. She had no recollection, of anyone or anything after that, tragic day. My brother was heartbroken as after his visit.  But those of us who did these things, felt immortal. This stuff only happened to other people. 

My best friend in high school, was a friend named, Carol. We would arrange to meet each other, and hitch rides together. We usually would go to a place at the Lakefront, called, The Site. All the hippies, hung out here. We would ask people to stop, so we could buy some Boones Farm, before arriving. It was the only wine, that teenagers, on a budget, could buy. The normal drinks, were either,  Boones Farm  Strawberry Hill, or Apple. If someone had beer, it more than likely was, Pabst Blue Ribbon. And we all thought, we had a secret code, because in the year book, people would answer, the favorite’s section with, PBR. Yea, like the teachers could never figure that one out.

One day, my friend Carol and I were being very cool. Our methods were probably no different from most teens, trying to buy wine or beer. We would ask the adults to make the purchase. The drinking age was 21, and that was way too long for us to wait. One night, we decided to go to East Side of Milwaukee. Another hippie hangout. Head shops everywhere you looked. Panhandlers, were common. And they were usually teens or young adults, trying to score pot or something else. I loved the area. Everyone wore Army jackets, and Navy Pea Coats. We were all about being so cool and anti-establishment. I would ‘freak my hair.’ Meaning, braid it very tightly, and let the braids out the hours later, to a full afro. And as anyone knows, with me, it’s all about the hair.

On this particular evening, Carol and me, stuck out our thumbs, and two guys pulled over. We got in and Carol asked, “Hey would you guys mind buying us some wine?” “Oh, no problem,” the driver said. We have a liquor store we go to all the time. We’ll just stop there.” A few minutes later, we were on our way. We gave them our money and they both went in. After getting into the car, they handed us the brown bag, with our two bottles of  Boones Farm. Hmm, “that was easy I thought.” “Where do you want to get out?” The driver asked. “Oh, just drop us off a few blocks from here,” Carol said.

So, we drove a couple blocks away and got out of the car. I had the bag in my hand and Carol was going to take her’s when she stooped down to tie her shoe. As she was getting up, a young-looking guy comes walking past. He says, “How you doing girls?” Just as I was about to say, “fine,”I see his hand reaching out toward us. He flashes a badge and says, “Police Officer. Let’s see what you have in the bag.” I felt the sickest feeling come over me. Wow, in less than a second,  I just lost my coolness.

He took us into the car as we were both crying and yelling about the unfairness of this. Of course we mentioned that their were, way more important things they could be doing, but making a bust such as this. I mean look at all the drug dealers and real criminals walking by.

As the officer explained what would happen, they said, “Because you were the one holding the bag, you will be the one going to court.” “What? I said. I finally understood, what “left holding the bag,” really meant.They drove both of us home. I thought my mother was going to explode, but she didn’t. All she said was, “I was a teenager once too.” “Wow! I didn’t see that one coming from my mom. And I had a hard time imagining her as a teenager. Living in a small town with her grandmother and my grandmother. I just couldn’t picture the connection to my experience. But whatever. I was happy enough, that she wasn’t angry.

That was a lot easier than I thought.” But no, that was the end of it. I had to go to court. I had to sit in a little hallway, as I heard the police officer tell me, that the guy that actually made the purchase, was not the driver of the car. He was also under 21. “Oh, that’s just great.” I thought. How did we assume, both of them were of age? Next he told me that they’d been watching this liquor store for a while. They’d heard they were selling to minors, and were just waiting to catch them. I also had to see the owner of the liquor store.  I got a warning and a strong reprimand from the judge about the dangers of hitch hiking.

I’m good friends with her. We still laugh about it every time we talk about it. At any rate, God was trying to teach me a valuable lesson. “Don’t get caught with the bag!” Ok, I know, that wasn’t the lesson, but hey, it was funny.

Hanging out behind our high school

Now, when I started going out with my boyfriend, John, we had a group of friends, that went to a public high school. I suppose, going to a Christian High School, made it uncool, to hang out with too many people from our school It was the public schools, which we always heard about. They were always behind in academics, but ahead in everything else. So we had parties with the people from Marshall. We were always hearing about their escapades,which made us seem tame.

We would all meet at Lannon Quarry and go night swimming. We would have huge parties. We once had a caravan of people driving out to a farm. We only had just arrived and we were laughing as we watched, all the cars, driving down through the cow pasture. We thought we were in a secluded area. But even so, police arrived shortly after tapping the half-barrel. We hadn’t counted on the owners of the little farmhouse, calling authorities. What a waste that was.

I liked the groups. The inner circle was, Scott, Dave O., Dave H, Jim H, Jim B, Claude, Dean and a few others. Then there were others, who would come to the parties. We would cross paths at other parties. But John and me, hung out with Scott and Dave O, most of the time. They all worked at ‘Go-Clean car wash, or Bagels and Bialeys. We would go to Go-Clean and hang out until the guys were off work. They would start the pumps at $1 or $2, for people filling up, so that they could use the extra $$$ for, John’s car, or someone else. Yes, in the old days, when attendants pumped your gas? You didn’t always get what you paid for. Especially when their were teenagers as attendants. As the cars were going through the car wash, they’d clean out any change they could find, as they were detailing the car. So, ‘Go-Clean,’ made sure your car was totally clean of anything. As long as these guys were on the job. The owner’s son, went to Marshall as well. And he’d show up every once in a while, to hang out with us, and peel out in the parking lot, with the new car, daddy gave him.

We would stop by Bagels and Bialeys, and wait for Jim, his girlfriend Robin, or their friend, Marcy. After they got out, we would take a ton of bagels, that were meant for the trash. We’d end up having bagel fights, from car to car. If you had an opened window, and happened to get smacked with one of those, you’d believe they could be used as a dangerous weapon. Especially when they were stale. I’m thinking of making this suggestion to the Israeli Defense League. You can  use them for food or ammunition.

We all went on a camping trip to Minoqua, Wisconsin. I was about 15. I rode in my boyfriends, Mustang. Bright orange, and breaking down, constantly. There were 5 of us in that car. My girlfriend, Susan went with her boyfriend, in his Volkswagen Beetle. They brought, Dwight. We were going to stay outside, of John’s family cabin. To this day, I don’t know why, we picked that place. We didn’t have a key, so it didn’t matter where we camped. We drove for hours, just to get there.  I just chalked it up to pure stupidity.

One night, we heard could hear one person complaining about the cold. It was Jim H. All he brought was a thin, little blanket with holes in it. It looked like a baby blanket.  Each person stuck their head through one of the holes, so we could get a picture. I wondered how he could go on a trip with it. Homeless people had better blankets.

Community blanket

 

I murdered the melon!

My friend, Susan and I, were left alone, while the guys went into town. We were screaming, as we heard something outside and held the flashlight to see a big racoon eating the melon I smashed earlier.

We just weren’t cut out for camping. On the way back, Sue and her boyfriend, had car trouble. Everyone was fighting.

Still, it was funny later to remember, our time in this little town. These became priceless memories. Especially years later, when my boyfriend had been killed in a car accident. I lost touch with most of our friends from this group, after that.

I did hear about our  friend, Robin. She  married Jim. Later, they split and she married his brother. She had a girl and named her, Carrie. I was so touched by this. I went to visit her and her little baby. We reminisced about our days, before responsibilities.

I do speak to Sue, on occasion. And I was happy to find out that Scott is now a man of great faith.  After our experience with the loss of John, we were all affected. We “put away childish things.” We lost many people and it was the Lord’s grace to protect us in our wildest times. But although, I am not unscathed by my foolish days, I am much stronger. And the friends I’ve had throughout my life, helped to weave the fabric of my being. I think we are all like, Jim’s blanket. We have our flaws. The holes in the protection.  But the friends, who are able to fill the gaps, keep us covered. And God’s grace, covers us all!

I had to laugh one day, when I met a girl at work. She told me her name was, Keri, and she was from Wisconsin. “I’m from Wisconsin!” I said. “What part are you from?” I asked. “Oh, you’ve never heard of it,” she said. “It’s way up north. A little town called, Minoqua.” I began to laugh, as I asked if they still had the little grocery store. I worried that she might say, her family owned it. I may have to pay for those eggs or watermelon. Of course, the statute of limitations, must have certainly worn off by now. But, thankfully, they didn’t own it.

Yes, as I look back,  I thank the Lord, for the good, and the bad. I thank Him, for my blanket of friends, that have kept me warm, when I was cold.

Eggs and beer! Breakfast of champions!

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