By Shirley Liddle
My childhood was a gift, an adventure and a simply wonderful time. Like many other children of my generation, we grew up in the aftermath of World War II, and experienced the opportunities provided in the `50s, before the turmoil and changes of the `60s. We grew up in the shelter of Andes, best described as a small, agrarian town, with a central school, a few grocery stores, a doctor’s office, a bank, a pharmacy, two feed stores, a few gas stations, a creamery, a cemetery and a main street. Some readers may not know what a “feed store” is………a business that provided grain for cattle and supplies for farms.
All my school classmates had two parents, male and female, meals at set times and everyone was raised with some sense of religion, values and purpose. We followed rules, said thank you, waited politely in lines and understood the concept of sharing. Life was relatively easy for a child of the baby boomer era. It is not difficult today to read stories about the hardships or what one did not have growing up in the ‘50s, but compared to conditions in other countries, our lives were a piece of cake.
The school was a central part of our lives. We learned to socialize, communicate and acquired academic skills from our teachers and classmates. My class was the largest to attend Andes Central School, with approximately 50 children in first grade. In fact, we had 2 sections from grades one to three. The reason for the growth in population was due to construction on the Pepacton Reservoir. The teacher and administrators who stood out to me as special were: Mrs. Deter, Mr. Smith, Mr. Coddington, Mrs. Joedicke and Mr. Redden. They were all kind and made the classes enjoyable. All the teachers were dedicated and well-meaning but everyone probably has a different list of favorites.
In my family, all the holidays were special. My Mother made every month have a holiday of some sort and a reason for a picnic, or a party, or something special. One of my favorites was Memorial Day. There was the excitement of the annual parade, the presentations and flowers at the cemetery, a family picnic with my cousins, aunt and uncle. Memorial Day seemed a day for fondly and reverently remembering people and sacrifices made in the war. Memorial Day symbolized anticipation of the summer to come and the end of the school year.
I had a great friend as my next door neighbor, Vicky Winner Bush, and we have remained friends throughout our lives. We shared experiences growing up, had daily adventures that made the basis for an enduring friendship. I regret we live such a distance apart. We laughed and talked about everything; we played games inside and out and lived life to its fullest. We went on bike rides; we went swimming in the Tremperskill stream; we rode downhill in the winter; we slept outside in the summer; we fooled around with our neighbors; we had wonderful times.
In August, everyone tried to get to the Walton Fair for a once-a-year experience. It seemed to always be hot and somewhat dusty the day we went to the fair; we often took a picnic lunch along and went with a couple of cars of neighbors or relatives. We always ran into other Andesians. The exhibits, the rides, the candy apples and cotton candy were exotic and delicious.
The Tremperskill Rod and Gun Club hosted its annual clam bake in July, which most people on the Tremperskill attended. Children raced around, ate raw and steamed clams, drank clam broth and consumed bags of steamed corn, potatoes, sausages, onions, clams and chicken. And melted butter! Raymond Winner was in charge of the cooking, if my memory serves me correctly. In fact, the annual clam bake began on Evert Close’s flat, down by the Tremperskill Creek and I think that Raymond Winner was instrumental in the concept of the clam bake and the Rod and Gun Club. It was always an event, wonderful fun and connections with neighbors and friends. I think adults consumed a fair amount of beer.
Perch Lake was always an exciting destination on hot summer days or evenings. Usually the children “of the Kill” took advantage of the generosity of Dr. All’s camp, the raft and lakefront. There was much wildness in the water on those days and the water seemed ice cold but very invigorating! Going up and down the steep Perch Lake Road was always a little scary in places because of the narrowness of the road. One never wanted to meet a car going in the opposite direction!
When the Pepacton Reservoir filled, `Kill families went fishing in the evenings, after farm chores were done, or on the weekends. This was always full of surprises, in the form of caught fish or no fish, stones along the shore or assorted things in the grass or water that only children can appreciate. These, like other outings mentioned, were all family events. The newness of the Reservoir wore off after a few years and people went back to doing other things but the first few years were special.
After graduation, most of my class went to college, found jobs and live elsewhere and probably lost touch with other classmates. It was the nature of change in our culture and the loss of the farm life that was fading from the landscape. Our parents raised us to believe we could be and do anything we wanted and we believed them. Now my class is aging and trying to reach out to each other again via Facebook and other social media. I think we are probably all still the same people we were years ago, physically different, but essentially the same personalities. I have had the great fortune just recently to reconnect with both the Susie’s: Oles and Shaver-Reed, and our reunion brought tears to my eyes and memories that lasted into the winter months. I hope that others can make similar reconnections; it will warm your hearts and minds. My class, 1968, was full of great people; we have lost two members, and I think some have moved to parts unknown but most have done well in life.
Returning to Andes for me is difficult. The town has changed so much and so many people are gone or deceased. The loss is overwhelming at times. Homes have been sold or changed and things are lost to history and memories. I think this is a sign of my age. Actually, I suspect this emotion is more common, than one might think.
I appreciate the ability to write this small article and I appreciate more the fact it got printed. Life is a gift, and the older we get the more we know this to be a fact and true. I love my memories of growing up in the `50s and `60s and love my thoughts of Andes. It holds a special place in my heart, as I think it does with others of my era. I would much prefer to have been a child of the `50s to a child of today’s times. Kindness and peace are values that are most important in my life. People should reach out to others and appreciate each and every day.
Hearing from other classmates would be great; you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. ~