Truths of a 4 and 5-Year-Old

Truths of a 4 and 5-Year-Old

I have many distinct memories of my childhood in the Atlanta bedroom community of Chamblee, Georgia. I turned 4 in 1960 to give you a reference to my world at the time.

There were certain truths back then, as I understood them:

  • Nature was full of treasures for all the senses:
    • Blackberries and plums for eating
    • Passion fruit flowers that looked like ballerinas
    • The mimosa tree with the fuzzy pink blooms that felt soft against the cheeks
    • May-pops (or what be called pop-boom-balls) were the same color and shape as a hand-grenade and worked just as well when thrown hard against the pavement behind someone else.
    • The honeysuckle vines tempted both the nose and the tongue.
    • Lightening Bugs filled the summer nights with visual wonder.
  • Everybody had a job:
    • Parents and other adults went off to work, usually Monday through Friday. Mr. Welborn, across the street was a postman and Mr. McNeely was the manager of the Grocery Store so they also had to work on weekends.
    • The children’s job was to go to school. Those that were old enough walked to school. Those like me who weren’t old enough for the First Grade went to PlaySkool, which was just a cutesy name for the big daycare center in town.
  • I didn’t have much use for shoes when I was home between the months of March and November.
  • It was always better to do as you were told. The consequences were always worse than doing the thing in the first place.
  • There were 2 trails in the open field at the end of our dead-end street. One went to Dairy Queen where small ice cream cones and Dilly Bars were just a nickel each. The other went to the Fruit Basket, a small convenience store where candy was 2 for a penny and you could get 3 cents for an empty soda bottle.
  • It was a big deal to drive to the shops at Chamblee Plaza, that I now know was only 2 miles away.

You can imagine my surprise and excitement that Saturday in December when Mom told me we were going to the Buster Brown Shoe Store. I was a bit confused because I didn’t ‘need’ new shoes, but it was exciting because it meant a car trip to Chamblee Plaza. When we walked in I was even more surprised by the man in a red suit and an oversized curly white beard was sitting in a chair off to one side. Mom looked at me and proclaimed, “We’re here so you can see Santa Claus!”

I climbed up on his lap and made a thorough evaluation of the gentleman. I could see tufts of his own dark hair peeking below the white wig he was wearing. The elastic straps wrapped around his ears and holding his beard in place were plainly visible, as well. Mom looked at me and said, “Go ahead, tell Santa what you want for Christmas.” I looked at her and wanted to explain that this man was definitely NOT Santa Claus, but remembering my truth about it being easier to do as your told, I recited my wish list to this stranger sitting at the Buster Brown Shoe Store.

I didn’t think too much about this encounter until the following year. Another December Saturday afternoon and another drive to the Buster Brown Shoe Store at Chamblee Plaza. We walk in and there sat the same man, wearing the same red suit, bad wig, and silly beard. But what I realized is that I told this man what I wanted Santa to bring me for Christmas last year and most everything showed up. I knew he wasn’t THE Santa Claus but he must have some inside track to talk to Santa directly. Then it hit me! All adults have a job and this man’s job was to interact with Santa Claus and if that was his job, then THAT was the job I wanted when I became an adult.

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