The Simpler Years
By Audrey Frank
When I was a child, if you didn’t have an open front porch to sit on, you sat on the front steps and watched your neighbors and friends go by. Summers were a time of simple magic shared with loved ones.
One summer evening, when I was visiting my Aunt Ida and Uncle Jim, the three of us sat on the front steps, and breathed in the soft night air.
Uncle Jim puffed silently on his ever-present pipe. He didn’t care if the tobacco was lit. He just liked to puff his pipe and tap it in the palm of his hand. That gesture stays fresh in my mind today when I think of him.
Suddenly, he looked up at the velvet sky and pointed.
“Falling star. See it?”
Sure enough, a tiny, bright blaze of light shot across the sky.
Uncle Jim nodded wisely. “Somebody just died and went to heaven,” he mused.
The thirties were an innocent time. People talked more about superstitions. Maybe they didn’t really believe, but they sure talked about them!
Today, every strange happening can be scientifically explained into oblivion. I think I liked it better when we saw a smiling face in the craters of the moon rather than watching our TV set while astronauts tramped all over it.
My generation grew up on a myriad of superstitions. Don’t walk under a ladder. Don’t let a black cat cross your path. Don’t step on sidewalk cracks. God forbid you broke a mirror. If you touched a frog or a toad you’d get warts. (That one made me chuckle as an adult! My children and I caught frogs and lizards when we lived in central Florida.)
Now we know warts are caused by a virus, so haul out Compound W. We break a mirror and buy a new one. And when was the last time you avoided stepping on a crack?
Looking back, it all seems silly. It sure was exciting for a young kid, though. I mean, nobody would put shoes on a table. Who wanted to stay single all their life? Black cats summoned visions of witches and were to be avoided like the plague. Toadstools sprouting on the lawn brought good luck. If you took green moss, put it in a jar of water, when the next full moon rolled around, it might turn to gold.
Nonsense? Of course. Exciting to a child? Absolutely!
So the three of us sat on the stoop and stared solemnly at that falling star. I held Uncle Jim’s hand tightly, hoping it wasn’t someone I knew.
Bio on Audrey Frank
At eighty-four, Audrey Frank is getting back to her roots of writing. In her younger years, with children at home, her time was devoted to raising her family and writing children’s stories. She had over a hundred short stories published in religious magazines for children. That field is now fairly obsolete. Remember True Confession magazine? Several of her adult stories were published there. True confessions were more naïve then compared to the tell-all writing today. She placed with others finalists in a Writers Digest competition in the mid sixties.
Life changed, as it does, and writing was put to the side. Now from her home in historic St. Augustine, Florida, she has joined a writer’s group and is writing daily at the computer. Memoir writing is the genre she loves best now. She is transcribing her journals into short written essays and sharing a time lost with others.