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Spring Fever: A Childhood Memory

You'd find me painting fences, playing ball, and giving my dog Rusty his first bath of the year.

As a child in the late 1940s, I knew it was spring when I smelled newly mown lawns in the neighborhood. The radio told us kids that the catchers and pitchers had reported to spring training in Florida or Arizona, so we put away our footballs and got out our baseball mitts. I would run to my granddad’s house and ask if I could help him put in a garden. The older kids were outside waxing their cars, and the girls were running around in shorts, hoping for a jump on a summer tan.

As spring progressed, Mom always needed something painted—the fence or the porch railings. People stopped talking about putting in coal and instead got out tackle boxes and told tall tales about the biggest bass ever pulled out of old Flang-Dang Pond. There was promise in the air: promise of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and red tomatoes.

The kids played outside on the warm spring nights—games of red rover, kick the can, buckety buck and hide-and-seek. The girls scrawled hopscotch games on the sidewalks. We boys played marbles for keepers now, and before long we would gather at the home of Mrs. Hughes for 50-cent haircuts. They were the real buzz jobs that made us all look the same. Summer was around the bend, and soon, I would even give my old dog Rusty his first bath since last year.

AARP Bulletin's "What I Really Know" column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit short personal essays on a selected topic and post some of our favorites in print and online. Ronald J. Barwell is a reader from Finleyville, Penn.

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