When you think back over your life, how many of your memories involve sound? Probably way more than you imagine. I was thinking about that the other day as I drove past the site of our old city swimming pool. The pool that was there when I was a kid was billed as the largest public swimming pool in the world at the time it was built in 1926. It was massive, and I remember walking past it and hearing the squeals of delight, the “thwap thwap, boing” of the diving boards, and the splash that followed. I can close my eyes and hear it still. Of course, back in the eighties the city set about to “improve” it and, like so often happens with improvements, basically destroyed it forever with an aquatic park that is only slightly less magnificent than the YMCA. So much for progress.
Do you remember the sound baseball cards made in the spokes of a bicycle? Or, better yet, the sound balloons made? The poor man’s Harley, according to my hubby. I recall the hollow twang the neighbor boy’s basketball made as he bounced it down the concrete walk and the squeaky harrumph of our swing set as it threatened to tip over with the next high flight.
I still hear the big box fan that sat in the back bedroom window as long as I can recall and the choppy echo it made when we sang or yelled into it. I recall the squeak and slap of grandma’s screen door and the sound of cousins vying for their turn to holler down the well in her side yard. I miss the crunch of gravel under whitewall tires on that narrow road that ran in front of her little white farmhouse. I still hear the clink of a tin dipper that floated in a bucket of cool water on the back porch…a dipper we all drank from and lived. I miss the sound of aunts and uncles laughing and talking like they do at a family reunion.
I remember the sound of sheets as they flapped in the breeze drying on a clothes line. I remember the furious barking of our chow mix, King, when a stranger ventured down the alley. I still hear old Mr. Baker’s rooster…right there in town. I still recall the hiss and jiggle of mom’s pressure canner as she put up another batch of green beans and the whine of her Mix Master as it creamed frosting for whatever new cake she was trying (which meant beaters to lick later). I still hear the snip and whir of dad’s old push mower and the whoosh of the sickle as he whacked at the tall grass.
I remember the “clickety clack ding” of a room full of manual typewriters and the novices who operated them. I remember the scratching of fountain pens on paper as those same novices attempted to catch every word flying by as it was dictated at what we thought was a blistering speed.
I remember wedding music and “I do’s”. I remember the tiny little voices my kids’ had and the sound of plastic baby beads snapping together and then apart, time after time. I still hear the pop pop and tapping around the Trouble game-board and the squawking of the electronic “Chicken” game my kids played in the eighties. I remember my daughter at about five putting on a “cooking show”. I also recall that her seven year old brother would eventually interrupt it with his newly acquired skill of armpit noises, which of course led to her shrieks of “MOMMY!”, and his giggling uncontrollably. Oh, how I miss that! I still hear the theme to Super Mario Brothers that my son hums occasionally, even all these years later.
I miss the old sounds of Christmas like the belIs hanging on the door. I still hear Steve and Eydie singing “Sleigh Ride” and Bing and the Andrews Sisters singing “J-i-n-g-l-e Bells, J-J-J-Jingle Bells”, and Christmas has not been the same since the old songs have been replaced with less traditional offerings.
I could go on and on about the memories associated with the sounds of my life, but perhaps the sounds I miss most are the ones that most shaped me. I can still hear an old Philco record player bumping and scratching along the old 78’s to play “Give the World a Smile Each Day”, “Get Away Jordan”, “Oh When I Meet You Up in Heaven”, to name a few…they still echo in my ears. When the Philco gave way to a “Hi-Fi” and 33 1/3 rpms, I hear the Prophets crooning “What a Wonderful Day” and the Imperials stepping wonderfully out of our comfort zone with “I’ve Got It”.
I remember the sounds of my church. I can still hear that slightly out of tune piano as a dear sister would bang out a song for her four daughters to sing, “This old world can never hold me, any moment I’ll be gone. For I’ve made my preparations and I have my wedding garment on.” I can still hear the congregation erupt in spontaneous worship like is seldom seen anymore.
I can still hear my mother singing, “I have found a hiding place when sore distressed, Jesus Rock of Ages, strong and true. In a weary land, I in His shadow rest; He is my strength in all that I do. Jesus Rock of Ages, let me hide in thee; Jesus, Rose of Sharon, sweet thou art to me. Lily of the Valley, Bright and Morning Star; fairest of ten thousand to my soul.”
I can hear the voices of dear sisters and brothers as they stood to their feet one by one and told how the Lord had brought them through when they thought all hope was gone. If I close my eyes, I can still hear the voice of every preacher we ever had…some good and some sorry… but who all had something important to say, whether they said it well or not. I miss the voices of the old folks in my life.
Yes, I have a treasury of memories associated with the sounds of my life, but I’m looking forward to one more sound very soon…and that is to hear Jesus say “Well Done”. That will be the sweetest sound ever.
If I close my eyes, I can still hear the voice of every preacher we ever had…some good and some sorry, but who all had something important to say, whether they said it well or not.