Remember the Time… We Jumped, Because We Could?


This post is from two years ago. A friend reminded me of it, and I thought I’d repost. It’s always humbling to re-read something and find the typos you missed; it’s fun to see what you would edit and change. Here’s round two of Remember the Time…

Long ago, and far far away, I was a child. I know, that’s hard to believe, what with my recent rants about wrinkles, and aging, but I was… once a kid.  As I age, that time in my life moves further and further back in my gray matter, yet takes on an increasingly powerful, almost mythical, place in my memories.  Out of nowhere fragmented memories come to me at any time, and I find myself recalling: a day spent swimming in the marshes with my good friend Julia; riding horses with my friend Kim (sadly, both are gone now), downtown and along the old railroad tracks; throwing firecrackers at my brother, and seriously burning the end of a finger, when I foolishly lit one and chased him with it. Brief images of my old bedroom; my dog having puppies; dinner at my grandmother’s house; the sweet moments that seemed ordinary them, come to me… and I am transported.

(If you can imagine these two with red hair and freckles, this is pretty much what my younger brother and I looked like in 1975 –>)

Image: schwinncruisers.com

Image: schwinncruisers.com

Then there are the biggies, the events that transformed and changed my life, even for a little while. For a short, sparkling blip of time, I was the only girl member of the Screamin’ Demons Bike Club. I was about eleven years old, maybe twelve, and I rode a bright lime green Schwinn Stingray bike, with a banana seat and classic wide handlebars. I’m not so old that I don’t know that some of my memories are sugar- coated. Knowing how things went down in my family, the bike was probably my brother’s, or maybe his friend David’s or Chris’, because there’s no way Mom would have bought my sister or I anything other than a very girlish bike. Think pink with a basket and a bell, or the Raleigh I inherited from my aunt.  We were expected to act like girls, and riding Stingrays and racing down dirt tracks was not girlish. The fact that my brother and his buddies let me into their group was a serious feather in my cap for many years to come, and was something we didn’t tell my Mom.

When I think back, I’m honestly not sure why my younger brother and his friends let me join their merry band in the first place. At best, my brother considered me a nagging older sister, who bossed him around. After my father’s death, when we were ten and eight, my mother took the lead role as Dad, and I played the supporting role of Mom. Needless to say, my siblings didn’t always appreciate the position that left them in. Frankly, neither did I; it’s lonely at the top.  All this to say, I have long lost the details that led up to my inclusion in their super “private,” boys only club, but I was. I was the only girl in the Screamin’ Demon’s Bike Club, and that bears repeating.

See, I was a girl... hence the plastic bow barrette

See, I was a girl… hence the plastic bow barrette

We were Mountain Bikers and BMX and thrill seekers, before we knew those things existed.  We didn’t wear helmets; they didn’t exist. We didn’t have shin pads. Our mothers didn’t ask us what we were doing, they were just happy we were outside. Ultimately, we were Even Knievel wannabes, because Evel kicked big time ass; he rocked our world, and we worshipped him. In many ways, I was a Tom Boy, though I always looked the girl I was.  I was a die hard fan of Formula 1 racing (knew the cars and their drivers); Muhammad Ali was King; OJ Simpson hadn’t killed anyone (yet)– we called him The Juice and watched everything he did; and I was thrilled to get to ride with my brother and his friends. I was smug about it; I felt too kool for school.

We cleared a path down a steep hill in a deeply wooded lot, across the street from my house, and adjacent to David’s house. Our trail made hairpin turns around trees, went over stumps and dips, and ended near a very old stone wall– if you didn’t crash into it.  We cleared every inch by hand, and took turns racing down, over and over.  Admittedly, the boys did more of that work. It was their idea, not mine. I just got to join along. I was grateful, and relished my role in their club.

When we weren’t on the dirt trail, we built ramps to jump over, in the middle of a quiet street near my house.  I thought I was hot stuff for jumping just as high as the boys, and they were duly impressed as well. I still remember their faces when I did the highest jump, after they taunted me, and dared me to try it. No doubt they all were waiting to see me fall flat on my face. I didn’t. I cleared the jump and air pumped my victory. In my mind, that jump was ten feet high, but I know it was about two feet off the ground, and propelled us two and half feet into the air.

We were serious about our adventures and stared death in the eye on the daily.  And laughed. There were wipe outs: stone walls were crashed into, jumps were missed, blood was spilled. I got hurt, but I never let the guys see me cry. For that little slice of time, I wanted to be a boy, but was even more excited to be a girl who kept up with the boys. That was then; now that I live in a serious mountain biking part of the country, it’s strange to think that what I was doing then, was exactly what I’m terrified to do now.  My husband comes home bloody and bruised routinely, after a day on Galbraith Mountain, and I cringe and tell him I’d never do that… but I did, forty years ago.

When I think back on those times, spent racing our bikes and risking life and limb, what I remember most dearly now, is that my brother and I loved each other then… we were a team. He let me be his pal for a while, and we shared those adventures together. Our lives hadn’t gone in the horribly different directions they’ve gone in the forty years since. We were still connected on the deep levels that siblings share. We cared how the other was doing, and we rooted for one another. We had each other’s backs. That was then, now we rarely speak and we barely know each other. He lives there; I live here. Our lives are as different as two lives can be. We love each other, but neither of us makes the kind of effort needed, to stay connect. Then, we were on the same team, The Screamin’ Demons… and I was the only girl member.

sc03498862We were a family then. We hung out; we went to see the Pilgrims and the Mayflower; we jumped, because we could. And yes, those big collars were very fashionable.

Did you have adventures back in the day? Share them in the comments section. Tell me what you think.

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GIPYHelp Me Reach My Goals!   KAPOW!  The Tales From the Motherland Facebook page recently hit the 2015 goal of 800 likes (which I set after hitting the 700 mark)! I’m going big 2016 and aiming for 1,200!! Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email,  no spam.  ©2011-2016  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
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12 Responses to Remember the Time… We Jumped, Because We Could?

  1. Cathy Ulrich says:

    I had not read this one before, Dawn. Nice piece of writing! My daredevil activity was a big rope swing at my friend, Beverly’s house. It went out over a short drop (although it seemed HUGE to us), and we’d hold onto the rope and start on one side of the tree and then swing around to the other side over the chasm!

    The other thing we did was blast down our rather steep driveway on those clamp-on roller skates. We’d intentional wipe-out in the grass on the side to avoid going into the road. Lots of green-stained knees.

    Like you, I think my parents rarely checked to see what we were doing, they just were glad we were outside playing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes when I think of these early adventures and times, they seem so dramatically rogue and special; yet, it was a simpler time, when so many parents just said “go play outside,” and we came home by dark!

      Thanks so much for sharing your own memories, Cathy. They are delicious! I can actually picture a little you, skating down a hill! Great hearing from you! I’ve been in NC, then Tel Aviv, a bit off the grid for a month now!

      Like

  2. mamaheidi60 says:

    What a great prompt to think of daredevil activities! I wasn’t as daring as you, but I did have some activities that I wouldn’t do today. There was a terrific rope swing in an old madrona tree at my cousin’s cabin and we would swing way out over the water and drop in. That was fun! We made go-carts with parts we got at the dump (my dad was great about taking us on dump runs to salvage wheels off lawn mowers and other great finds). We played in an empty lot that went down to a creek, The Ravine. Pirates on boats (huge fallen log), Pioneers building in the trees, collecting moss for the rug. And we were outside most of the day, running home for lunch and back out to play tag, baseball, ride bikes. We used our parents tools, dragging them down into the ravine for projects. One summer we spent digging a huge hole. Why? I have no idea. The lot is still empty, too steep to build on I guess. There are probably still some tools, rusting away down there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    Wonderful post. I can relate because my brother and I hung out together a lot. We were only 11 months apart and often lived where there weren’t many other kids so we did a lot of things together. I was never as physically brave as you though. A regular bike ride was adventure enough for me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • My brother and I were partners in crime for years! Now, thinking of that, it’s hard to really understand how we drifted so far from that place… though there are reasons indeed! Thanks so much for sharing, Carrie! I’m working my way back onto the grid!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jackie Weber says:

    My brother and I also have drifted apart. We were very close growing up and spent a lot of time together as kids being only two years apart. His friends were my friends and vice versa but in recent years we have taken completely different life paths. The love is without a doubt there, but the connection is lost. It’s a sad feeling but I suppose it’s a part of life.

    Childhood memories for me center around one place; our block 61st. We moved there when I was five and left when I was in my mid twenties. It makes me feel old thinking about how back when I was a kid, everyone played outside. Summer, Fall, Spring.. as long as the weather was nice we were outside and together. We played manhunt, tag, played in the dirt and used our imaginations to make our own games and fun. My best friend Gina and I would walk my dog for hours just for an excuse to be outside. At almost 27 now, it’s hard to think so many of my childhood ways have been lost in the new generations. Like you, we thought we were too kool for skool and it was a time I’ll always cherish.

    Liked by 1 person

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