1950 Memories of Suburban Adventures

Country Cousins

When you’re young, it’s often the simple things that bring the most joy and pleasant memories.

When Aunt Mary K. and Uncle Joe got married, they lived on the farm where Mom and her four sisters grew up. After Uncle Joe passed away, Aunt Mary remained for many years before moving to the street behind Aunt Ann’s. David and I often spent the night, since Mary Ellen (Deedee) and Corky were close in age.

Mom once told me, “Years ago, we created a little pool by damming up a portion of the stream behind the house and barn. Every few minutes, we climbed out of the water to check each other for blood suckers, and sprinkled salt to loosen the more stubborn leeches.”

I repeated the story to Deedee. We found a spot we assumed was our mothers’ swimming hole. Aunt Mary and Mom must have been really hot to swim with blood suckers.

Annie, Deedee, and Me (around 2008)

Annie (city cousin), Deedee, and Me (around 2008)

Deedee with eyes open

Deedee with eyes open

Deedee’s naturally-curly blonde hair fell to her shoulders and framed her large brown eyes. A genuinely nice, and pretty person, Deedee usually smiled while speaking. Corky (Joseph) got his nickname because everyone claimed he was such a corkscrew, very active and getting into mischief.
David and Corky (around 1965)

David and Corky (around 1965) at Aunt Mary K’s

On a hot summer day, the four of us walked along the stream bank to where it meandered into a small wooded area behind the Karpinski’s house. Corky showed us a magical place he discovered earlier.

A sharp curve in the stream created a narrow ten-foot gravelly band of beach front. Schools of tiny minnows hugged the shoreline, basking in random splotches of sun that shone through the overhang of leaves. Corky and David cooled off in a natural two-foot high pool. I remembered Mom’s blood sucker story, and stuck to wading. I checked between my toes every few minutes, and urged Deedee to do the same.

Corky taught us a new song that began—‘Way down south where the bananas grow, a flea stepped on an elephant’s toe’. We sang it a hundred times, with various intonations, while wading and walking back to the house.

Like many haylofts, a portion of Aunt Mary’s held long forgotten stored items. Deedee and I explored its corners and discovered a treasure. A pile of Look and Life magazines from almost two decades ago fascinated us with their old-time fashions. We brought a selection for Aunt Mary to marvel at, but she had been there and done that, and didn’t want musty magazines on her kitchen table.

Aunt Mary was close to celebrity status; she went to school with Uncle Jim Fisk, who hosted the Freddy Freihofer Show. He selected children from the audience to draw squiggles. He then created a picture from the mess on the paper. I fully expected to take over Uncle Jim’s job when I got older. To prepare, I had the neighbor kids draw numerous squiggles which I artfully turned into drawings. The kids weren’t as appreciative as they should’ve been, and after several afternoons tired of helping me get ready for my future.

Aunt Mary K’s refrigerator held a fruit drawer actually full of fruit. Our’s at home occassionaly held apples and once in a great while, oranges. Gary complained as the selection became less vast. I practiced stealth with future fruit removal, but he knew it was me. The plums were my favorite.

Lesson Learned: Enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of every day. And stock your fruit drawer with a large variety of fruit.

Related Posts: City and Country Cousins/Wedding Poop

Now it’s your turn: Did you ever wade in a brook?

© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. My phone got hyper or something and posted my comment way before I was ready. You may delete it if you want to.

    What I was ” fixin” to say was that you were way more brave than I was because just to peddle my bike over the little bridge that spanned the creek made my heart pound. I was that scared of blood suckers. I’d never have stuck even my little toe in the water because my uncle told us they suck all your blood out and kill you. I was really a wimp when I was little.

  2. CJ says:

    LOL! They actually DO use leeches for that purpose right now in today’s medicine! Yes, I have many times waded in streams but never with ‘blood-suckers’ in them, thank heavens. I’d never go near the water if I knew it contained such creatures.

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Ick, I know they do, CJ, but not on me! I’m a lot more picky about where I wade now. I got one on my foot once and tried brushing it off. It didn’t move. Then I dramatically limped to the house and poured salt on it, expecting it to sizzle and melt like the wicked witch. But nothing happened. Finally I grabbed it with a napkin and pulled. I was soooo grossed out. It hung on and stretched to twice it’s length until the last second.

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