Play Salad

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My brother and I come from the last generation of outdoor kids. When we were small children, there was no internet, no smartphones, no computers with virtual games. We played by using our imaginations, and when we’d pretend, we were so imaginative and inventive. We had a sense of wonder about the world that I believe most of today’s kids lack.

Many times while playing together outside, my brother and I would pretend that we were making a salad. We’d grab one of the bowls from my toy dish set, or we’d take a lid from a metal trash can and turn it upside down to make a huge plate.
We’d pick the large, green leaves of the hydrangea bush, which grew on the west side of the house to use for our lettuce. We used the petals from withering carnations for the tomatoes, crumbled old, dead leaves from the past Fall, or peeled the bark off the trunks of crepe myrtles, then crumbled them into little pieces for the bacon bits. We would also use the yellow pulp from dandelions for the shredding cheese, then pour muddy water into the salad as the dressing. Finally, we’d sprinkle dirt as pepper onto our creative little concoction and use sticks as utensils as we both would pretend to eat it.

We’d often use thick mud and a stick to stir it when pretending to make a chocolate cake. We’d “bake” it in the “oven” which was a small, cardboard box.
During those days, our imaginations ran wild, and life seemed so fresh, shiny and new. Everything was exciting back then. These are precious memories I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world, what I wouldn’t give to start over and do it all again!

It was a different world then. Simpler. More carefree. And much, much safer! In those days, we never had to worry about drive-by shootings, sex-traffickers, or terrorists. The worst we had to fear was getting our butts spanked for getting too dirty and coming home late for dinner, falling and skinning a knee while skating or riding our bikes in the street, being beaten up by neighborhood bullies, or our teacher’s wrath for chewing gum in class, playing hooky or failing to turn in homework. How I wish today’s kids could get a glimpse of the world in which my brother and I grew up!

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