March 27, 2008
For a short time this evening I was transported back to 1965.
It was a hot summer night, the parents were sitting on the front porch, and the block was filled with kids running back and forth.
As it got darker thousands of lightening bugs glowed like lights on an all encompassing tree.
The block was alive!
I now live in the house I grew up in, after a twenty year absence. It’s a blessing and a curse. When things happen now I tend to go back in time and remember what it was like then. On this block. In this house.
My front door was flung open. Same with the back. There was no noise in the house: no radio, no television, no fans going, no microwave. Nothing.
The power was out.
Had been for hours.
A line of storms had passed over the Chicago, with boiling thunderheads and long craggily lighting strikes.
One of them hit a transformer or something, and it blacked out the area.
Everybody was forced outdoors.
I just lay on my bed and listened.
When I was a kid, air conditioning was not common. With the exception of a few monstrous window units, AC was just another science fiction type thing, like flying cars, ovens that cooked things by radio waves and video telephones. A dream. A cool dream.
At night in the summer you sweated yourself to sleep and tossed and turned in discomfort. Sometimes you convinced your parents to let you “camp out” in the backyard. You had some fans and an open window, but that was it. The sheets were drenched.
Nothing was working this afternoon and evening, nothing that took alternating current, courtesy of Commonwealth Edison. No TVs. No radios. No sound systems. No Game-boys. Nothing.
The kids came out. The parents came out.
They sat on the front porches. Not on the decks in the back, which weren’t the style in 1965, but on the small concrete steps. Most just sat on the steps, as the chairs and other comforts were way off in the backyard.
Everybody could see what everybody else was up to. No kids could get in trouble, as many sets of parental eyes were on guard.
It was really like a return trip to when I was a boy. Like then, the kids this evening were catching lightening bugs in jars.
Then the clocks started blinking and refrigerators started to hum and the noise was more inside than out. The blue lights of the televisions came on again, radios played, and 2007 was restored.
Soon the porches were empty, the lights were on, and the past was again the past