The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Opinion: 'Teleporting' definite contender for best childhood memory

 

June 17, 2020



This ditty has been making the rounds lately on wall plaques, t-shirts, and social media posts:

“Best childhood memory: Falling asleep on the couch and waking up in bed. I miss teleporting. It never happens to me anymore.”

At my house, we didn’t “teleport” often from the couch — we were nudged to wakefulness and sent on our way.

But on occasion, we did succeed in hitching a sleepy ride — about 30 yards or so — from the back of the family car, across the yard, and inside to our beds.

Those were, indeed, magical moments.

My brothers and I grew up in the 1960s, the last mostly full decade prior to the installation of seatbelts in vehicles in the United States, and two decades before child passenger safety laws.

Minivans were far off in the future, so the vehicle of choice for families was often a station wagon.

Ours was a heavy-duty Ford customized with truck springs, one of my brothers remembered, so it could also be used on our two-track ranch roads.

It was pale yellow, fitting one of two criteria our mother had for everything we owned: Possessions should be either dirt-colored or “a good color to hide the dirt.”

(I like to think that our lifelong low standards contributed to the development of our robust immune systems.)

The interior was dark green vinyl, perfect for absorbing New Mexico sun — toasty warm in the winter, broiler-level hot in the summer.

We kept the back seats folded flat much of the time, providing a fair-sized play space padded with a thick musty quilt.

It was furnished with our childhood essentials: a greasy box of modeling clay, broken stubs of crayons, drawing paper, tiny metal cars, plastic soldiers, books.

Thanks to the remoteness of our home, most treks we took were at least 75 miles round-trip, on roads considerably slower than what we use today.

We were fortified for our journeys by two things that were always, always, always in our vehicles: a gallon plastic bleach jug filled with slightly chlorine-scented and -flavored water and a box of saltine crackers.

Again, our mother’s logic: If we were stranded and hungry, a handful of saltine crackers washed down with water (even old, warm, chlorine water) could expand to fill whiny hungry bellies.

When we were our smallest, our pajamas were always tucked into a corner.

If we were headed home near dark, the last stop would be to change into night clothes.

We would say our goodnights and crawl under the quilt in the back of the station wagon, where we could stargaze out the windows until we were lulled to sleep by the motion of the car and the soft voices of our parents far away in the front seat.

Turning off the pavement for the last four miles of bumpy dirt road sometimes jarred us back into consciousness.

When that happened, we knew the best plan was to feign deep sleep and hope for that blissful ride into the house, snuggled against a shoulder and cradled by strong arms.

Sometimes, after an especially long day in the “big city,” we really did sleep straight through to mysteriously awaken in our very own beds.

Best childhood memory?

That’s hard to say.

But it’s definitely a contender.

Betty Williamson wishes she still slept that soundly. Reach her at:

[email protected]

 
 

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