Stroll with me, old friend....close your eyes....  and go back...before the Internet and email...  before bombings, aids, herpes... before semiautomatics and crack...  before SEGA or Super Nintendo...  way back!


I'm talking about sitting on the curb, sitting on the stoop...about hide-and-go-seek; Simon says and red-light-green-light.  Lunch boxes with a thermos ... chocolate milk, going home for lunch, penny candy from the store, hopscotch, butterscotch, skates with keys, jacks and Cracker Jacks, hula hoops and sunflower seeds, wax lips and mustaches, Mary Jane's, saddle shoes and Coke bottles with the names of cities on the bottom.


Remember when it took five minutes for the TV to warm up.  When nearly everyone's Mom was at home when the kids arrived home from school.  When nobody owned a purebred dog.  When a quarter was a decent allowance.  When you'd reach into a muddy gutter for a penny.  When your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces.  When all of your male teachers wore neckties and female teachers had their hair done everyday and wore high heels.


Remember running through the sprinkler, circle pins, bobby pins, Mickey Mouse Club, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Kookla, Fran and Ollie, Spin and Marty...Dick Clark's American Bandstand .... all in black and white and your Mom made you turn it off when a storm came.


When around the corner seemed far away, and going downtown seemed like going somewhere.  Climbing trees, making forts, backyard shows, lemonade stands, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, staring at clouds, jumping on the bed, pillow fights, ribbon candy, angel hair on the Christmas tree, Jackie Gleason, white gloves, walking to the movie theater, running till you were out of breath, laughing so hard that your stomach hurt...remember that?


Not stepping on a crack or you'd break your mother's back ...paper-chains at Christmas, silhouettes of Lincoln and Washington, the smells of school, of paste and Evening in Paris.  What about the girl who dotted her i's with hearts? (that was before that stupid smiley face)!  The Stroll, popcorn balls and sock hops?


Remember when there were just two types of sneakers for girls and boys - Keds and PF Flyers, and the only time you wore them at school was for gym.  And the girls had those ugly gym uniforms.


When you got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped, without asking -- all for free -- every time!  And, you didn't pay for air either, and you got trading stamps to boot!  When laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box.  When it was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at a real restaurant with your parents.  When the worst thing you could do at school was flunk a test or chew gum.  And the prom was in the gym or the lunchroom and you danced to a real orchestra.  When they threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed-- and did!


When being sent to the principal's office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited the student at home.  Basically, we were in fear for our lives, but it wasn't because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc.  Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat!  But we survived because their love was so much greater than the threat.


Remember when a '57 Chevy was everyone's dream car -- used to cruise, peel out, lay rubber, scratch off or watch the submarine races?  When people went steady; and girls wore a class ring with an inch of wrapped Band-Aids, dental floss, or yarn coated with pastel-frost nail polish so it would fit?