Sno-ball stand in Waller TX
Sno-Ball Stand
Waller, Texas Copyright by WyoJones. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

It’s Monday and I’m mulling. Or maybe I’m pondering. Nothing heavy. Because it’s Monday.

The hubs photo of the Sno-Ball stand is what started the mulling and the pondering. Or maybe it nudged some that had been lingering at the back of my mind.

Where I grew up (northern Wyoming), we called them snow cones, not Sno-Balls. But that’s not really the point.

Yummy tasting stuff squirted onto shaved or crushed ice on a hot day=divine. I can close my eyes and suddenly I’m back there. I can feel the heat beating against my skin and hear the hum of bees and mosquitos. I grew up close to the city swimming pool, so I can add in the pool chatter, the sounds of splashing. The squeak of the metal chains that supported swings that didn’t pinch your bum cheeks together. Our swing seats were nice boards you could sit on and pump into real motion—enough so you felt like you could fly.

Back in the olden days (I did mention I am old, right?), play was often far from safe. We had merry-go-rounds that would go fast enough to send you flying. Swings that took you high enough to send you flying. Slides that were high enough to build enough speed to, wait for it, send you flying.

Thinking back, yeah, a lot of the stuff we played on could send you flying. Or severely damage parts of your body if you lost focus. Which we did a lot. I spent most of my early years with scraps on knees and elbows. I still have a scar on my right hand (which is very helpful for quickly telling which is my right hand. Don’t judge. I understand it is an actual, though mild, learning disability.) from when I was ice skating and fell. There was a broken beer bottle under the snow. I know it was a beer bottle because of the color of the glass the doctor dug out. Another piece emerged some years later that I thought was very cool at the time.)

We played with rattlesnakes and cooked potatoes on campfires by the river—while we played in and around the river. We climbed things we shouldn’t and slid down those things, putting holes in the seat of pants, in the knees of our pants, and in our knees.

I know there were chores. There were six of us and my mom had a tough job. I know we went to school, but I try not to think about that. Mostly I remember playing long, playing hard, and arriving at home in the evening happily exhausted and covered with so much dirt we turned the bathwater brown.

I had toys. Barbies, Liddle Kiddles and Matchbox cars and stuff. Toys. But mostly we ran, rode bikes, roller skated (yes, I had a key), climbed trees, and built tents on the clothesline (who remembers those?), and yes, I spent a lot of time on a blanket spread out in the shade reading. And reading. And reading some more.

Those stories would filter how my friends and I played. There was the real world around us, and then there was the world we saw. The brick flower boxes in front of our houses were actually castles. And the school bleachers were castles and towers and space ships and, well, anything we wanted them to be.

I drive by playgrounds and even now I’ll slow down and feel the pull. There are some pretty cool ones. Elaborate (and carefully safe), brightly colored structures and those swings that pinch your cheeks (okay, so I may have tried one or two). The rockets and castle-ness are built in and they look fun.

But I wonder…do they fuel creativity? Or do they limit it?

I honestly don’t know.

I know I had a wonderful childhood. Magical even. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew, not just my name, but my parents’ phone number. We had a lot of freedom to roam and explore and dream and wonder.

The world has gotten a lot more dangerous, even in my small town. And I wonder, do kids still have magic and wonder and fun?

I hope so. I can’t tell you how much I hope so.

What do you think? Tell me about your childhood. What was great? What wasn’t so great? I love comments so much that I pick a favorite to receive my monthly AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value).  Recipient is announced the first blog post of the new month.

Perilously yours,


P.S. In The Key, Sara has a rather tragic childhood, which would probably mean something to a shrink. Or maybe the writer in me just knows that tragic childhoods fuel more dramatic conflict than happy ones? You be the judge. You can read the first part for free or get the whole book right this minute. Really. Though not free. That’s just the first part.

The Key: Part One
The Key: Part One


A Mulling Monday
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13 thoughts on “A Mulling Monday

  • March 27, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    it was great

  • March 22, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    I’m not convinced the world’s gotten more dangerous. Crime and general mortality rates are way down in every place I’ve lived (Seattle, SoCal, New York City, Boston, Providence) since my birth except the town I grew up in, which remains the same.
    Playground safety is weird: my mom didn’t like to leave me out of her sight on any playground. I have an uncle who I never met because he died in a playground accident in the late 1950s or early 1960s (hit his head, died soon after of internal bleeding).

    During my miserable childhood (subjective! not anywhere near Sara’s!), I found magic in books indoors- I didn’t like the outdoors because I wasn’t safe from other kids. I had legos and plastic dinosaurs and paper to create tales in. Creativity can come from anywhere, although there are environments that may foster it more. Give a child a rock, and he may name it Stanley and insist it’s how the cat talks to him.

    • March 22, 2016 at 9:19 pm

      You make a good point. I know my siblings and I roamed pretty freely around (without cell phones!) and were sometimes gone for hours at a time without checking in. I know with my kids, raised in the city, I needed to know where they were. Maybe it’s just the perception? And we know more when kids go missing? I am so glad you found magic in books. I love, love, love books! They were my magic carpet ride anywhere and everywhere. My daughter used to turn her crayons into people, so I believe in Stanley! Thanks so much for stopping by the share. 🙂

      • March 23, 2016 at 12:37 am

        We definitely know more now than three decades ago at least when kids go missing thanks to Amber alerts! Before, I wouldn’t know except for faces on milk cartons.
        Crayon people sound awesome.

        • March 23, 2016 at 7:54 pm

          So true, Lee. And yeah, her crayon people were pretty awesome. I love, love, love watching a kid play. I think it refreshes my creative well. 🙂

  • March 21, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I had that kind of childhood too, and got the scars to prove it! 🙂

  • March 21, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    I think a lot of kids in western cultures are so busy with scheduled activities that they get very little chance for freeform imaginative play. Which is really unfortunate, because all the research supports play as a form of learning – it’s key to proper brain development. Not to mention that flexing our imaginations can turn out to be helpful later in life, and not just for us writers!

    • March 21, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      You do worry about that. I know it’s not safe for kids to do what we did, to roam like that, but still, just to be able to play has made all the difference for me, I think, creatively for sure. 🙂

  • March 21, 2016 at 11:18 am

    My favorite memory of childhood was bike riding. Alone on my 10 speed with a Walkman playing cassettes. I lived in a poor fishing village in Jersey along the coast. Flying down the road with the ocean on one side felt like I had complete freedom.

    • March 21, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      Bike riding! Such great feeling to be speeding along with the wind on your face!! Great memory!!

  • March 21, 2016 at 9:15 am

    I was brought up in a small mining village in south Wales. I had a magical one to. My family all come from there. My one grandmother was the best cook in the world the other an adventurous one would climb trees when my sister and I were to scared to when nut picking

    • March 21, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      I am so glad you had magical! I had two grandmothers who made amazing things for us to eat. Neither climbed trees though they used to!! Very cool!

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