My best friend from childhood, Mike Mays, has been texting me some old photos.
He sent the first batch to my wife Pam because he had lost my cell phone number.
That one got the cycle started.
I couldn’t recognize everyone in that first photo but it definitely started stirring the memories of the 1960s and 1970s.
All the photos, except one, have been black and white.
One was on a typical play day in rural northwest Alabama. There was a badminton racquet on the grass in the foreground. And I’m not sure if Mike and I and another friend were holding toy guns or some of those little, green toy soldiers. There were clothes hanging on the line in the background.
Whether toy guns or toy soldiers, it exemplified the fun we had in those growing-up years.
There were no cell phones. Getting to use a telephone at all was difficult because we were on a party line.
There were no video games or Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat or Instagram.
We made our own fun and most definitely, we had a blast.
We had a ditch in front of our house. Those toy soldiers and our GI Joe’s and accompanying trucks and all-terrain vehicles (of the toy variety) spent a lot of time in that ditch.
And we even progressed to things like Hot Wheels and the track with the super loop. I’m not sure how many Hot Wheels I accumulated, but they filled up one of those large cases.
We spent as much time as we possibly could outside. That seems to be a lost art these days – playing outside.
All the kids from the community often came together for tag or tackle football in the front yard. Or we’d shift to the old basketball goal nailed to a pine tree.
Then late afternoon, we’d get the tent and find a place not too far away to camp for the night.
Another black and white photo was one of Mike blowing out candles on his birthday cake with some friends looking on. One of those was my sister Gayla. I can’t count the candles on the cake but I’m pretty sure they don’t make birthday party hats like those any longer – thank goodness.
There was a color photo of Mike and me and three others standing on a footbridge. Perhaps it was made at Dismals Canyon or Natural Bridge or Rock Bridge Canyon. All were close by – Dismals near Phil Campbell in Franklin County, Ala., Natural Bridge in the southwest edge of Winston County and Rock Bridge in Hodges, Ala.
Those were really big days, when we got to take a short road trip to one of the three attractions.
From a few years later, there was a color photo of the wedding attendants when one of our good friends was married. It was a good-looking crew, if you like long hair and mustaches. Those were stylish back then.
A few weekends ago, Pam and I drove to Alabama for a brief visit. Each time I go back, my mind takes me back to the growing-up years. I wouldn’t trade them for anything, and thanks to old photos, I can relive them.