Grape Soda And Bazooka Bubble Gum

Back when I was young

Not a care in the summer sun

We’d come home when it was dark

And our phones weren’t so smart

We’d have fun even if we lost

And we bowed our heads to the cross

We stood and put our hands over our hearts

When the National Anthem would start

I remember my first game with my first baseball glove

After every game I’d have a grape soda and Bazooka bubble gum

Don’t know how we survived without central ac

Or how I never broke a bone climbing the tallest tree

We never let a girl walk home alone

And there weren’t cuss words in a song

When saying I love you meant something

And it meant something when you had a wedding ring

And when you could count on your friends

And sometimes I wish I could be young again

When I didn’t have so many things to overcome

I sure miss grape soda and Bazooka bubble gum

A Simple Life

Since we had another, yes another, day of rain I ran on the treadmill again. It’s May, I should be outside but it seems to rain every day I have off. Anyway, we have an awesome treadmill so I decided to map out my hometown. I ran from old 35/588 intersection down 588 to downtown Gallipolis.  I ran along the river front and the park, past the old football stadium, elementary school and my old high school.


So many memories came back. Some good, some bad. Some good decisions I had made and some bad ones. People I haven’t thought about in years as I ran by their house or the street that lead to their house. People came to mind that I didn’t run by their house but I remembered if  I would’ve mapped it out to go left or right I would’ve been right there.  Right where I spent many days and nights of my youth.


I ran by my old elementary school and high school. I remembered recesses and I remembered running out of high school to be the first to get to Charlie’s or Remo’s, or the other place beside Charlie’s, can’t remember the name, to be the first to eat lunch. I remember when there used to be a pool behind the old shop building where I took swim lessons. I don’t remember so many big trees in front of the high school. Maybe those are new. A lot can change in twenty eight years. Wow, it’s been twenty eight years since I left that life. Like, there is a new high school now.


There were some new stores open along the way, some that replaced stores I remember being there but are no longer. There were shuttered businesses that used to be open. It’s crazy how all that came back. The old record store where I bought probably 80-90% of my vinyl records and cassettes is now something else. The same record store where some of my friends and I stood in front of all night long to be one of the first in line when they opened to get Bon Jovi concert tickets.


I remembered how “busy ” I was with friends, girls, sports, work and everything else instead of spending time with my grandparents or parents. How dad would try to teach me things about a car but I was too busy to have him teach me. If my car breaks down I will just pay someone to  fix it. I didn’t need to learn those things. I’m paying for it now. How I wish I could have just one of those days with my dad back.

The small creek where we “hunted” crawdads. No big city lights to block out the stars or the lightning bugs. Running barefoot in the back yard playing wiffle ball. Swinging on the front porch as the sun went down.


Most people say they wouldn’t go back but I would go back. Even it was for only a day. Only if I could do it all over again and still end up where I am of course. Everything I have gone through has helped shape me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t want to change my kids for anything. I love who they are and who they are becoming. I like where I am in my life now.


Yes I would go back. Just for a day. For the simple life of a small town. For mom’s cooking and advice, she still gives that to me. Maybe the past me would listen this time.  For friends I wish I still had. To treat certain people a little better than I did. To be able to waste a Friday night cruising around the park.  To be able to go out in the early morning and come back just before dinner and not have to worry if I was kidnapped or where I was or what I was doing. To not be attached 24/7 to a cell phone.  To be able to come home and talk about my day because we hadn’t talked all day.


A simple life in a small house in a small town.  Where you knew your neighbors and they actually cared about you and your kids. A simple life with dandelions and daffodils in my yard and not getting a letter from my home owners association that I need to get rid of them.


A simple life. One where I can actually live this life God has given me instead of living to pay bills. A simple life where I can give more.  More of my time, more of my money, more of my life.

A simple life. Where there is more love and less hate. A simple life. Where there is more good and less evil.  A simple life. Where more people lived for others and less for themselves. A simple life.


A simple life. I see a tiny house in my future. One I can take around the country until I find a simple place to put it.  A simple place that’s warm of course.

A Simple Life by Green River Ordinance – 

Simple Life by The Lost Trailers – 

Wasted Time by Keith Urban – 

Huntin’, Fishin’, Lovin’ Every Day  by Luke Bryan – 

Simple Life by Lynyrd Skynyrd –  

Simple Man by Shinedown, cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd but since I have them above – 

Simple Things by Montgomery Gentry –  

I’m A Small Town by Kenny Chesney –  

Simple Life by Casey Abrams – 

Photograph by Nickelback – 


My Hometown

CAM00467My childhood home. Never needed anything more.

This past weekend we went back to my hometown to visit my mom and to go to my dad’s grave. Friday will be two years since he left us for a better place. I don’t go home enough. Lately, it’s been like once or twice a year. It’s hard since I work Saturdays and everyone else has school or work on Monday so we go down, it’s a two hour drive, on Saturday night just to come right back up Sunday afternoon. We were able to run the hills of my youth, skip some rocks in the creek, and explore. CAM00432CAM00435CAM00436CAM00439

Plus I left that place. I went to college and didn’t look back. Left everything and everyone I had known. The only people I kept in touch with were my parents and my brother. I didn’t even keep in touch with aunts or uncles or nephews or nieces or grandparents. I know, I was and am a terrible person when it comes to keeping in touch with people.  I know many people think I quit caring or didn’t care but that’s not the case. Being an introvert I just don’t reach out to people. I don’t do small talk well. It doesn’t mean I don’t think about you or pray for you or check up on you on Facebook or something.CAM00468I used to climb this tree when it was smaller. Don’t find trees like this in your front yard in the suburbs.

I also have always been a family guy first. I would rather spend time with my family than anyone else. When bad times come I don’t reach out to people for help. I always try to deal with things myself. Usually by shutting down or ignoring it until I boil over. Yes, I know that isn’t healthy and I am trying to learn. I don’t like to bother people. I always think they have enough going on in their own lives that they don’t have time to listen to me. I have found out that I was wrong. Everyone hear that- I admit was wrong. Doesn’t happen often though. (If you know me you just smiled because that’s how I act.) There are people that will take the time to listen and help when they can. It’s up to me to reach out. I have a long way to go.CAM00445CAM00447CAM00443Last year she couldn’t skip a rock, this year she could.

CAM00449CAM00450CAM00451CAM00453Of course city girl liked the exploring but she worried about the ticks and the poison ivy.

Anyway, back to my small hometown on the Ohio River. I love living ten minutes from anything I want to do now but sometimes I yearn for a slow down small town life. I know technology is great but everytime I hear my children say nothing is on I wish they had three channels, that you had to get up to change the channel,  with an antennae hoping you can get a good picture when your favorite show is on.(and we had no DVR) I wish they knew what it was like to have three grocery stores in the entire town, not three within a block of each other. I wish when they say they are bored that they knew what it was like to be in my childhood. We had Atari and my first game was Pong. Talk about boring.  I used to throw a tennis ball against the steps of our house for hours to help my hand eye coordination for baseball. (Never knew which way it would come back at me after it hit the steps.) Our town didn’t get a pool until I was a teenager so we explored the creek by our house. We caught crawdads and minnows for fun. In the winter time I played Nerf basketball in our small hallway and played baseball cards, in that same small hallway.CAM00455CAM00454My old room – plenty of room for me growing up

I didn’t have a cell phone with games, an ipod with games, a XBox, a Wii, a Kindle with games, etc. Basically everything I could ever want at my fingertips. I didn’t have a phone I could facetime, text, share pictures, etc. If we had a friend that lived 30 minutes away, we had to pay long distance to call them. If we wanted pictures, we had to buy film, take pictures, take them to get developed, wait 2-4 days for them to come back and hope we took some good pictures. No instant delete, retake, or anything of that. If we wanted to share them, we had to go to someones house or have them come to ours. If we wanted to text someone, we wrote a letter then waited a week or so to get one back. If we wanted to see someone when we talked to them, we actually had to be in the same room.  Can you believe that? At least our TV was color. Well, the one in my bedroom wasn’t. Yep, black and white with bunny ears. Oh the horror!

But things were better back then. I didn’t have to worry about keeping up with all the news and gossip of my friends. I didn’t have to worry about watching 20 different shows to make sure I could keep up with what everyone else was watching. Our entertainment was each other.CAM00457 I’m the cute one on the left.

But things were better back then. Playing outside was normal. I could be gone from morning until darkfall and my parents didn’t worry if someone had kidnapped me. I just simply told them where I was or would be. But now you worry about where your kids play, you can’t go 30 minutes without looking for them, or checking them on their phones GPS. We were also more active then. Why, because we played outside all day. How did we fit six kids in our backyard to play baseball, football, wiffle ball, etc?. It looks so small now. But we played outside. Childhood obesity has tripled since 1980.

But things were better back then. Kids were kids. They weren’t ADHD or ADD or allergic to gluten or nuts or … Kids today are being prescribed more medicine and being more medicated than my entire generation has been.

But things were better back then. I received presents twice a year, on my birthday and Christmas. That is how my kids have been raised, with maybe a very seldom exception.My parents didn’t feel they had to cater to our every whim to please us. My parents knew we loved them regardless of the gift giving or brand named purchases. They let us make our own mistakes no matter how painful it was for them. They allowed us to accept responsibility for our actions and deal with the consequences. Most of all, they were more present for us, playing less of an enabler role and more of a supportive role.

I can’t tell you how it saddens me when I hear parents say I want my kids to have a better childhood than I did. Were all our childhoods that bad? If that was the case and our kids want their kids to have better childhoods, everyone will be living in mansions and have a separate house just for the toys they played with once. What have we become?

But things were better back then. We played in the dirt. We got dirty and bloody and icky and gooey. We didn’t have antibacterial hand sanitizers thrown in our face every five minutes. We got less sick. When we let our own immune system fight germs, our immune system gets stronger. When we are constantly applying antibacterial this and that, the germs get stronger. The same thing has happened with our food. Stronger pesticides equals stronger bugs, the super bugs.

But things were better back then. Children today are being poisoned at an alarming rate. With all the junk they add to foods, all the feed they feed the animals, steroids, antibacterial, pesticides, GMO’s, etc.  Is it any wonder our kids are reaching puberty at 8-9 years old compared to 13-14 just 30 years ago.

Looking back, my hometown and back then were some pretty good times. Even if I only got presents twice a year and had to walk to school barefoot uphill both ways in three feet of snow.

P.S Look at my mom’s paintings. Isn’t she talented?


Back by Colt Ford (feat Jake Owen) – 

Back When by Tim McGraw – 

Where I Come From by Montgomery Gentry – 

Meanwhile Back At Mama’s by Tim Mcgraw (feat Faith Hill) – 

Back Home by Andy Grammer – 

Back Where I Come From by Kenny Chesney – 

My Hometown by Bruce Springsteen – 

Give Me Back My Hometown by Eric Church – 

Small Town by John Mellencamp – 

Hometown by Point of Grace – 

Hometown by Bucky Covington – 

Home by Daughtry – 

Home by Philip Phillips – 

Home by Michael Buble – 

I Wanna Go Home by Sundy Best – 

Dirt Road Diary by Luke Bryan – 

My Town by Montgomery Gentry – 

Back Home by Hazen Street –