The other day, my granddaughter asked her mom what an ashtray was. Isn’t that the coolest thing ever? Got me to thinking, wonder how many kids these days know what matches are. They’re seldom used around the house anymore. Of course, living in a “senior community”, the appliances are mostly gas — fireplaces are gas — barbeques are fueled with propane and start with a push of a button. (I actually have a match book collection from the 1980s. Back in the day, most restaurants used matches as a way of marketing. Now, if those little boxes exist, they usually have toothpicks in them.)
So, brings me to my story. One day, Dad was returning home in his Ford pick-up, bouncing along the old dirt road that led to our house, and glanced up on the hill to see smoke and flames coming from the roof of ‘the old barn’. That old abandoned barn had sat up on that hill for years and was one of our favorite places to play. I particularly liked to try jumping off the roof when I was going through my “I know I can fly!” phase. Well, anyway, as he looked at the flames shooting skyward, he spotted my sister Peggy and her best friend Jimmy standing in front of the barn. They both stood there like idiots, and waved at Dad as if nothing in the world was wrong. Or perhaps by smiling and waving, they were trying to communicate that all was OK and hoped he would just go home.
After the firemen left, Dad sat Peggy and Jimmy down at the kitchen table with a big box of long stick matches. He made them take turns: light the match, blow it out, walk it to the garbage can. Light the match, blow it out, walk it to the garbage can. I’m guessing there were 200 matches in that box.
Oh glorious day, as I and Jimmy’s sister, Mary Ann came up with every excuse possible to tip toe through the kitchen, stick our tongues out at Peg and Jimmy, make silly faces at them, run out the back door, run back around the house and come in the front door and do it again.