Since both our birthdays are in July, Mama always gave us a party together instead of separate parties. Usually the party was held around the 13th or 14th, as close as possible to being in the middle of the two special days. We didn't really care, just as long as we had a party.
Back then parties weren't fancy or themed. They consisted of all neighborhood kids being invited, for absolutely no one was excluded. A few simple games were played, prizes were won, gifts were opened, and birthday cake and ice cream were eaten and Kool-Aid was drunk. Then everybody went home, and the birthday person was left to play with the gifts to his or her heart's content.
We never ever had bakery cakes or "store bought" cakes at our parties. Mama always made our cakes from scratch and they were always chocolate, which was the kind my brother and I liked best. Mama always decorated them with pink and blue candy pieces, as well as pink and blue candles.
One of the things, too, that my brother and I remember is the lecture that we always got either before our own party or before those that we attended in our neighborhood. That lecture pertained to manners, and we could count on getting it right before our party started or right before we left for one. Mama always ended the lecture with, "Now don't let me hear that you didn't use good manners and embarrassed me. You know what will happen to you if I hear that, don't you?" We would have sooner died that to do something at the party that would have embarrassed Mama!
We never were quite sure what that thing was that would have been so awful if we had done it and embarrassed our mama, but we knew for a fact that we had to do the following: say please and thank you; do not ask for seconds of anything; do not fight with anybody; be nice to the birthday person; do not make fun of any gift or prize; tell the birthday person that we had a good time after the party was over, whether we did or not; thank the mama giving the party; and come straight home from the party.
Since our neighborhood was small and nearly every family had kids of some age or the other, we all knew each other and could easily walk from one person's house to another. A very safe place to live, it was as if we all belonged to one big family. If any of us misbehaved, the whole neighborhood knew it before sundown. It other words, we knew everything about everybody. We didn't have to lock doors, because nobody had any secrets and nobody was afraid of the neighbors.
My best friend, who was one year older that I was and who was also named Barbara (I couldn't pronounce Barbara clearly at that point in my young life and it came out like Bobber.) learned how much I liked her mama's fried chicken. Usually she would try to get me invited to eat lunch with her on the Sunday that her mama was going to have chicken. Everybody's mama cooked either fried chicken or roast beef for Sunday dinner, but nobody's mama could fry up a chicken like Barbara's mother. While my own mama could make a dessert that would melt in your mouth, she couldn't cook meat worth a hoot. So I looked forward to those invitations to eat Sunday dinner with Barbara and her family.
When Barbara and I were very young, we were playing at my house one day when Mama saw us playing a game that caught her attention. She said that we were playing "choking" and were supposed to be taking turns "choking" each other. Stupid, huh? How we came up with a game like that, Mama didn't know, but she was watching us closely to be sure that we didn't hurt each other. She said that I pretended to "choke" Barbara, but when it was her turn to "choke" me, I wouldn't let her. She got mad then and started home. Mama said that I began to cry and beg her to stay saying, "Don't leave, Bobber! You can choke me all you want to!"
Ah, precious memories...even if we did do some stupid things to remember years later, they are still good, fun memories!
Before I close, let me remind you to be sure to look for our special section, the Macon County Pride, in our paper next week. This is our annual section that toots Macon County's horn. We show our county's growth over the past year and how we look today. We are proud of where we live and through this special edition we tell and show everyone our pride. All of us have worked hard over the last couple of months to produce this section. We are proud of our efforts and hope that you will be, also. So be sure to look for the Pride next week!