The sounds of small-town memories
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
As the summer heat begins to subside the cycle of the seasons always resonates with me most in August with the cacophony of the cicadas. That loud, oft annoying sound of the male calling out to attract a mate, reverberates over and over in the evenings now.
Each of us has different triggers to our memory banks.
The warm, sweet smell of freshly baked orange bread can make me turn to see if my mother is maybe still here.
The feel of a ball glove on my hand brings back my father’s smile at a simple game of catch. The clamor of the cicada pulls such a trigger with me and calls up memories of my childhood in my hometown of Dedham.
My folks always mistakenly called the cicadas, “locusts,” and to me they were such a mystery.
A sound so noisy, yet rarely could we see or smell or touch the creator of that racket. It was always somewhere up in the trees as we sat outside each night in the 1960s.
All the neighbors did in my hometown of only 300. We kids needed no cellphones to text our friends to know what was going on. We simply rode our banana-seat bikes to the water fountain on Main Street by Donna’s Café. There the evening activity was planned ... a game of 500 at the city park, maybe bike tag on the church hill, or if the fast-pitch softball Merchants were playing, catching foul balls for a dime and a pat on the head from Wimpy, the PA announcer.
Rainy summer days playing Monopoly on Maggie’s screened-in porch. Winter-vacation afternoons shooting hoops in the Legion Hall, and to get the key to the gym we kids just walked into the gas station and took it right out of the cash register.
The adults trusted us.
We respected them.
It was an idyllic childhood.
Over four decades have passed, and my folks are gone. When I sit and reminisce of growing up in my hometown I can’t actually see or smell or touch those wonderful recollections, but just like the cicada, I know they are there ... somewhere up in the trees.
The repeating ringing each August voices all those memories back as loud as their sound, of growing up in small-town Iowa with simple pleasures and unsophisticated fun. Knowing you were safe, and loved by neighbors and friends who waved at you as they sat outside each late summer night ... and listened to the “locusts”.
(Dan Pomeroy, a native of Dedham, is a pharmacist in Coon Rapids.)
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