Tuesday, August 14, 2012
A Model Lunchtime
By Guy Sharwood, Groovy Reflections Team Member
I always looked forward to lunch when I was in grade school. Mainly because we had the good fortune of living around the corner from the school, about a five-minute walk. So although on occasion I ate cold lunches at school, more often than not I'd go home.
My folks were both working by the time I'd gotten into the fifth grade. But since life was so much safer in the mid '60s, we couldn't properly be called "latchkey kids." Keys weren't even necessary. We could keep our doors unlocked even when nobody was around. Usually neighbors were out and about anyway, but there was never any worry about people breaking in.
We lived right on the corner and our rented house had no backyard fence. So people were always using our backyard as a short cut. It just came with the territory. It was just like another sidewalk to most of our neighbors. It was also great for baseball games because with no fence we could have the games in our yard and position our outfielders right across the street. Traffic was comparatively light back then, too.
But what I liked about lunch time, as I say, was that I could go home and had the better part of an hour to do whatever I liked. Typically Mom would have a can of Dennison's Chili Con Carne sitting out on the drain board, and I could open it and heat it up in a saucepan. While I was doing that I'd work on one of my homemade comic books or read the latest issue of Boy's Life magazine and work on one of my models.
In those days, models and accessories were available at pretty much any drug store of pharmacy, although Fresno did also have several hobby shops. My passion was monsters, like the kind Ed "Big Daddy" Roth was so famous for. Although Rat Fink was his most popular, that was the only one I didn't buy mainly because he didn't have a cool car like Mr. Gasser and his other contemporaries (but a tiny replica of RF came with the Drag Nut set).
They didn't cost a lot, either. Most of the time I'd invest my lawn mowing money, a buck a week, in one. Paints were reasonable and there was a wide choice of colors, both sprays and the type in the little bottles that required those little thin brushes. For just 15 cents we could buy a tube of Testor's Glue. The clerks at the stores knew we got those tubes for our models, not for anything else. And notes from our parents weren't required.
Spring weather was perfect for this. I'd get home from school during lunch, eat my chili and spread newspapers over the picnic table we used so regularly this time of year for many purposes. I'd have whatever model I was working on, my paints and glue, plus the instructions that always came with the kits and spend the balance of my lunch hour working away while listening to rock and roll on my little transistor radio. And I'd allow myself enough time to get back to school for the afternoon. By the age of 11, I had a lot of autonomy, as long as I did whatever my folks asked.
There’s lots of rationale as far as why I'm grateful I was still a kid at this particular time. As safe and quiet as things were in those days, this was one of the reasons.