Monday, May 1, 2017


Little Tykes Green Turtle, Internet Domain

Warming days of spring that herald the lazy days of summer always prompt me to flash back to my idyllic days of childhood. I was one of the lucky ones that can say my parents provided me with a happy and innocent childhood. My adult years have revealed stories of children growing up that are beyond heartbreaking. Our family like many was anything but wealthy back then after two world wars, but we were living a good life without extraordinary hardships and America was embarking on a postwar period of peace and prosperity while much of the world was recovering from the devastation of those wars.

Children today are products of the digital age. Now a secondary definition of a sandbox is “a virtual space in which new or untested software can be run securely.” I recently observed a short clip of a young mother that was completely blocked out of her young daughter’s attention while the girl played games on her device. Activities that stimulate young minds are always productive if they are monitored by a responsible adult and not abused as substitutes for childcare. I think there are times when we don’t give a child enough credit for having a rich imagination. I could have a great time challenging imaginary swordsmen with a “Johnny Lightning” stick that I found lying on the ground after a wind storm. And there were no batteries to contend with like in a Star Wars lightsaber! But the good news is that we could purchase the classic Little Tykes Green Turtle sandbox for my young daughter and they still exist!

I have fond memories of spending hours in the simple sand box that my father built for us kids out of four two-X-six’s and a few bags of sand. He located the sandbox between our neighboring houses under the shade of a spreading elm tree. As a child of the postwar boom, I had the requisite platoon of plastic green soldiers along with cowboys and Indians. Ironically, many of the poor-quality props in the sandbox were Made in Japan. But I had them all engaged in epic battles to the end. These episodes became even more intense around July 4 when combatants could be seen loudly hurling out of the box from Black Cat land mines that wandering terrorist felines had planted overnight.

Neighborhood kids would meander over and join in the action which provided the basis for some lasting childhood friends. As we grew older, the toy soldiers and cowboys were set aside for other interests, as poignantly depicted in the movie Toy Story. I recently stumbled across a couple of survivors in a priceless cigar box once used by my grandfather of boyhood treasures that I’ve managed to keep all these years. I’m certain the Littlest Angel and God’s newborn son would have treasured them also. But the good news is that my senior years still include moments of intense imagination as I visualize my path out of challenging sand bunkers on the golf course. Sometimes I wonder if my brain gets melancholy and steers me into these hazards just for old time’s sake! And when that becomes too much of a hassle, there’ s always the sandy Carolina beaches.

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