The Childgrove

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The summer of 1966 began for the first time with, thanks to the Uniform Time Act’s enactment, daylight savings time. Well, in my lifetime, anyway.  Lyndon Johnson was on the throne in Washington. Acid test parties and League for Spiritual Discovery were the centers of the cyclone in California, Gemini rockets were flying overhead, and bombs were falling on Hanoi. The Beatles played their last concert in Candlestick Park, and thirteen people were shot dead from a bell tower in Austin, Texas.

I was nine years old and, as of yet, unaware of the rest of the world. All I knew was that the doors of Sherwood Elementary would not see the likes of me for three blessed months of freedom. All I could see in my future was adventure.

This is my story of memories, real and imagined, and how the line between them gets so indistinct as to be meaningless. It is a ghost story, set in the dying days of the old Midwest, where no fences divided the airstrip lawns of imagination for children’s feet to trod.

The Tom Sawyers of our world have all grown old, our reality replaced by virtual ones, cell phones, and twenty-four-hour cartoon channels. Today’s children can never know just how deep childhood was then when adventure was something you had, not something you witnessed.  The summer of 1966 would change me, and by fall, I would not be the same child. Adventure does that to you, and sometimes it leaves scars

Places mentioned in the story

Oscar Wilde in St. Joseph

Born in 1898, one of three brothers, Ezock began his career as a newsboy. He was well known in my childhood for selling novelty toys and mistletoe at Christmas.

But what about Edward’s house?

I have no picture of the actual house that stood on the site. It was close to what I described. but really, it became an amalgam of many of the homes in St. Joseph I loved. Here are a few. You can see Edwards tower room would not be out of place there.

Can you hear them too? All those stories, all those ghosts. all those dreams. I grew up in the midst of this, and it made me who I am. I remember them all, and carry them with me.