When was the happiest time in your life?

I grew up as a Baby Boomer on the Far East side of Wichita.  Most of us were fairly poor and for the most part from working families.  The Neighborhood we lived in was built during the pre and war years of WWII.  Cheap houses with no air conditioning and for the most part no central heat.  Our dishwashers were for the most part our Mom's or in my case when I got another D in Algebra. 

All you had to do was walk outside in the summer and you could get a bunch of kids that were willing to baseball on the lot on the north end of Byrd Street.  For the biggest part, only the older kids had ball gloves and for the most part they were second hand.  All of the ball gloves were used by both sides when their teal wasn't at bat.  I would say we had batting orders but heck, I don't remember the names any better today than I did then.

The other day, some one made reference to hitting the cover off the ball and most of the under 40 kids didn't have a clue what this meant.  We would play with the old base balls until literally someone  would hit the ball and the cover would fly off into nowhere.  I can remember a time or two when we tried to play with the uncovered ball but it would very soon unwind the string and it would be unplayable. 

My Dad worked for Beech down at the end of the street and the Beech Aircraft Employees club had several activities for the kids of the Beech employees.  I guess you could say there were a lot of little son's of Beech - Crafters out there.  I played little league baseball several years and had a lot of good times.  Every summer there would be a day at Joyland where we could basically ride for free and mom and Dad could play bingo or whatever event they had that day.  At least once a month, Beech Employees Club would have a free late night skate at the Skating rink in Kiddie Land.  We did that a lot. 

One of the major past time activities among my friends was riding our bikes as far as we could.  To accomplish that, we often had to tighten chains and grease the wheel bearings.  One on trip, my bike got so hot that the hub of the front wheel started to smoke.  There was water in the ditch and I dipped the wheel hub in water.  It cooled off enough to let me get home.  That afternoon we tried to grease the bearings and they came out of the housing as individual balls with out the metal retainer.  We had to cannibalize on of the old bikes to find a wheel that would first of all fit and then work. 

One of the kids I went to school with had a Dad that ran a trash truck.  Leon would help his  Dad and he had first choice of the bikes other people would throw away.  He would take pieces and parts of the bikes and make custom bikes that really looked neat.  You could buy one from him pretty cheap.  The only bad part is they really didn't last long.  I spent $8.00 one summer on a bike that didn't last until fall.  I had to mow lawns to earn that money but hey I didn't really expect much.

I guess the point of all of this rambling is that this weekend we drove through the old neighborhood and it sparked a lot of memories.  So as I smiled away the short drive, I had a flood of good thoughts.  If that is what happiness is, I would take another trip through that time just for the kicks and giggles.

MUD (aka Wheezer from the Our Gang Comedies)

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