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A Simple Childhood

Gerald Decker

I was a child in the 60’s and early 70’s living with two parents in a modest house in a very small town. We had a roof over our heads, food to eat and received clothes twice a  year: just before school started and at Christmas. Birthdays consisted of our very own special cake.

However, vacations were pretty much out of reach for our small family with only daddy working as it was the era of the “stay at home mom.” We did take day trips to the beach and to Greenfield Park.

Each time my brother and I visited Greenfield Park, we looked at the airplane as if it were the first time – crawling up to look inside at the instruments and wished we could fly.  We laughed and waved our arms as we traveled on the little train around the park; loving every clackity-clack. There were swings and swinging cages; ducks sliding effortlessly across the lake; laughing and squealing children everywhere.

The worse thing that ever happened was the hot June day I forgot and left my crayons (Crayolas no less) in the back window of the family car. They melted into one huge colorful slab while my brother and I wore out the swings and probably our parents. Greenfield Park was originally built in the 1730’s to help with the rice production in the area. The 1900’s saw Greenfield Lake become a recreation locale as trolley lines were expanded to the area. At one time, it was the also the site of a small amusement park. I never knew this as a child, so I didn’t mourn the lack of a ferris wheel or roller coaster. I just knew it was a place I loved: the swings, the bearded trees, the paddling ducks and the beautiful lake as far as my young eyes could see.

And the beach: what can I say! Daddy took 4 steel poles and a hammer and grandma’s old pink blanket with the edging flying around in the wind. He would hammer the poles in the sand and attach the blanket to the top of the poles. Mama would spread out another blanket in the shady area for the fried chicken, potato salad, light bread, pickles and tea in a big gallon jug.

No there was no sunscreen used in the making of this day trip. Yes, I would advise it certainly today and I did use sunscreen as a young adult. When you know better, you do better.

I had a simple childhood. It seemed like easy times compared to all the things our children and teens are facing today. We had no phones, computers, tablets, mostly two parents in the house and church on Sunday. It wasn’t bad. In fact, it was the best. And I’ll say it again: It WAS the best.



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About the Contributor
Gerald Decker
Gerald Decker, Founder, President
Gerald Decker is a 4-year Navy veteran with four tours to Vietnam between 1968-1971. Gerald earned a Master’s Degree from George Washington University. He worked for nine years as a U. S. Senate staffer after college and later as a Senior Manager for a small business lobby organization. Gerald also taught Political Science at the high school and college levels. He is a certified trainer in Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Gerald founded Athens/Oconee Adult Baseball, Decker Diamonds, the Leland VFW Post 12196, and Teen Scene, Inc. In addition to his work with Teen Scene, Gerald is founder and Past Commander of the Leland VFW Post 12196. The Post was the Mayor's Choice of Citizen of the Year in 2020 and was ranked #5 in the nation for 2022-2023. Since 2020, Gerald has co-written two books. The first was about his good friend and WWII veteran Alex Moskowitz. The second was published by Teen Scene, Inc. in Oct. 2021, entitled "The Great Lockdown of 2020: An Anthology." Gerald is still married to his high school girlfriend (55 years) and has two children and three grandchildren. Following a 15-year hobby of playing catcher in a men’s adult fast-pitch baseball league, his hobbies now include heating pads, grandchildren, and genealogy. Teen Scene and VFW are not hobbies. They are passions.

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