As we settle into the COVID holiday season, instead of focusing on fear and loss, I’ve been thinking a lot about the adventures I had as a kid from Thanksgiving to Christmas every year. I invite you to join me in my memories of happier times and to encourage you to share with me your adventures of the holiday season.
Most often my family would get together with my many cousins. I remember waiting in the driveway on a cold Thanksgiving morning, hoping that the snow would not prevent my uncle Saul from driving his 4 door, 57 Chevy from Brooklyn, Michigan to our house in Oak Park. My cousin Rick and I definitely had many adventures over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Hockey was big on our minds: Thanksgiving would also mark the start of the ritual flooding of our backyards to make hockey rinks. Mike Martlock’s was the best because we used his garage to check our opponents into the boards. Jon and Dale Mars would also make a rink that was great because Mrs. Mars provided us with an abundance of candy and hot chocolate. Sometimes at night, we drive to Ann Arbor to see Michigan Tech play Michigan. Arnie Mars played for Tech in the 30s. The Mars family must have loved sweets, because we always ended up at the Sugar Bowl on Main Street after the game. I think now the Sugar Bowl has morphed into an Indian restaurant.
Our big Saturday adventure was to walk to the movies and spend the whole afternoon in utter chaos with hundreds of other kids at the Radio City Theatre in Ferndale at Woodward and 9 mile. We felt free to yell and scream and throw popcorn at each other in the dark. On the way home, we’d act out the action movies we had seen on the screen. My favorite was when I got to play Prince Valiant or a fighter pilot in WW2.
At night the big adventure was to be able to play card games, sometimes with the adults, and sometimes by ourselves. The best nights were when our parents would go out, and we would scare ourselves watching horror movies on TV. The scariest I remember was the Daughter of Frankenstein. Rick and I would cover up our own fear by trying to scare his younger sisters, Patti and Lainy. (Who remembers the scary guy who hosted that scary tv show on Saturday nights?)
A very special adventure I remember one year was going to Detroit to see the Hudson’s Parade and then to see the Lions and the Packers play each other. My dad and I went with our other cousin, Sparky Schulz, and his dad Leo. I can still remember the names of some of those great Lions: Alex Karras, Roger Brown, Yale Larry, Night Train Lane, who was married to Dinah Washington.
Another adventure I remember was when I was a paperboy. Here is the story. (As a literary device, I have written the story as a letter to my imaginary dog Finn. More about that in future Dr. Rob).
I wish I could figure out some way to take you along on my paper route. I know it’s December and you love staying in the house, crawling up by Grandma and Grandpa in the living room as they watch Queen For a Day, but it sure gets lonely out there. It’s so cold and dark when I’m delivering the Detroit News after school. The hardest part is having to deliver the paper to the Detroit zookeeper’s house. As I cross busy 10 mile Road, I start to hear the lions roar. I’m pretty sure they are locked up, but I dread having to walk up the zookeepers long dark driveway and throw the paper on their porch. I fear one of those lions is going to get loose and devour me. Even if you were with me, Finn, you probably would not be able to protect me from a lion, but I would feel a heck of a lot better knowing you were around. Not saying that I would want the lion to eat you first, just saying that it would make me feel safer. Well, I’ll be home soon, and If I’m in one piece, I’ll tuck my cold feet and fingers under your warm body and hope to keep the frostbite away. I guess frostbite is better than a lion bite.
PLEASE SHARE YOUR HOLIDAY ADVENTURES WITH ME (ROB@ROBPASICK.COM). MAYBE WHEN THIS IS ALL SAID AND DONE, OUR KIDS WILL BE TALKING ABOUT THEIR COVID HOLIDAY ADVENTURE OF 2020. STAY SAFE AND MAY YOUR ADVENTURES BE FUN.