Things I Miss From Childhood

Masontown, PA circa 1949 001

On Sunday I heard Billy Collins reading one of his poems on the Prairie Home Companion radio show. I love his poetry and also enjoy listening to him read his poems.  As I am finishing my Childhood Details Collection, I thought a poem like his would fit in really well. So here is my “Billy Collins version”  of my childhood memories.  Some of the things mentions are pulled from other poems I have written earlier, so I hope you will bear with me.  It really works best when read aloud. It helps feel the flow and rhythm of this free verse poem.

Things I Miss From Childhood  (Childhood Details Collection)

Now that I am almost ready for my second

I think back on my childhood with fond memory

I miss sitting on my mom’s knee while she talked on the phone

Hoping no one was listening in on the party line as we rocked

I miss running barefoot in the summer through trails in the woods

Resulting in poison ivy rashes and pink calamine lotion

Hoping to dry up the bubbles that grew on my ankles and toes

I miss the long high stair case with its heavy rail and balusters

Fun to slide on but no fun to tumble down

I miss watching my mom and sister wash clothes in the cellar

Sitting on the basement steps watching the suds

As the clothes were put through the ringer

Soap squeezed out running back into the washer

The cool dank smell of the dark stone basement

Mixed with the stale smell of coal dust and ashes

From the furnace room around the corner

Rows of canned fruit in Mason jars sitting on old wooden planks

Preserved for many winter meals and Sunday chicken dinners

I miss the way Mom tucked me in on cold Pennsylvania nights

Covering me with a heavy quilt she made and knotted

Sleeping in the old iron bed that once belonged to my brother Nelson

It became mine when he left home to go to college

A hot clanking radiator on the wall next to the window

Cooled down till morning as the coal fire burned low

I miss the rides with my pop in our old green 54 Chevy

Feeling the power glide shifting underneath us

The cleaning of whitewall tires with little round pads

Steel wool and soap from a yellow box that read Comet S.O.S

I miss the clothes hanging on the line in the bright morning sunshine

The wicker basket piled high the pin bag sliding down the line

Little wooden soldiers waiting to stand attention all in a row

The long wooden clothes prop pushing up the sagging middle

A sweeping line of towels and sheets extending on an on

Osmosis of water and cotton absorbing the sweet smell of freshness

Unmatched by softeners or dryer sheets shrinking hot clothes dry

I miss gathering eggs upstairs in the chicken house

Feeling the nest of straw prickling against my fingers

Contrasting against the smooth hard shells of perfect eggs

Baskets full of eggs hand washed and boxed for selling

Saving the cracks for us to eat never once thinking of salmonella

I miss watching Pop popping corn on the blue flames of our gas stove

In the old cast iron skillet with a special lid full of holes

Steam squeezing through the holes as the corn popped loudly

I miss the dirt road in front of our house

Where I used to ride my bicycle sailing down the hill

With the siren chain pulled tight against the wheel

Screaming past our front door all the way down past the mailboxes

I miss the spinning wheel that held all the mailboxes

One for each neighbor spinning on top of a big iron pipe

Saving our mail man a trip back the long dusty road

I miss sleeping with my head on my mom’s lap on Sunday evenings

Lying on the old hard oak benches at church as the wall clock ticked

Carried home when the service ended and talking was done

Put straight to bed knowing nothing till the morning

I miss the big white house with two chimneys and German siding

That I painted with Dutch Boy paint one summer when I was eightteen

I miss climbing the Butternut tree that grew tall

Getting bigger each year just like me

I miss climbing the Red Delicious apple tree along the road

Lodged in its fork biting into ripe delicious fruit in the fall

Wiping sweet juice running down my chin on my shirt sleeve

Of the many things I miss from my childhood these are only a few

And…As I enter the beginning of the second they say

These memories are the last to go


Photo of my childhood home in 1949 from our family album

( The round spinning mailbox post had not yet been put up.)



2 thoughts on “Things I Miss From Childhood

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