I miss being a kid.

I miss the days when I thought nothing of riding my bike along 10 miles of gravel country roads to the river for no better reason than it was Saturday.

I miss rushing from stand to stand on opening day to learn which had the lowest prices on what fireworks, because even tiny explosives were a big investment for a kid and you literally wanted the biggest bang for your buck.

In the same vein, I miss when comic books and bottles of Coke went for a dime and an ice cream cone cost a nickel.

I miss Grandma's pot roast, but not her "little round pancakes," which, because I didn't like syrup, I thought were disgustingly dry lumps. I did, however, like the sausage patties that she served with them.

I miss Granddad's garage, a dust-caked and grease-stained sanctuary where the tools were never locked away and there always were pieces of scrap wood and coffee cans full of bent nails. To Granddad, everything had value, even a kid.

I miss playing tackle football in the avenue, where there was less danger from passing cars than from the cockle burrs you were likely to tumble into.

I miss climbing trees. Even more, I miss not being afraid I'd fall and lie broken among the shrubbery until some passing neighborhood dog buried me, which is the case these days.

I miss Saturday morning cartoons and fried cinnamon rolls with maple frosting. (I liked maple flavor; I just didn't like syrup. This remains true today.)

I miss the days when you didn't have to call ahead to book time and place to see your friends. You just stopped by, and if they couldn't come out, you moved on to the next house and the next friend.

I miss lying on the living room floor to watch TV.

I miss tree houses and dugouts and snow forts.

I miss endless twilight games of "ditch," a rules-free blend of tag and war with ever-changing teams and involving a lot of skulking and rolling over fences. No one won and no one lost; it just picked up again the next night. It's possible the game we started in 1964 continues today.

I miss pickup baseball games and playing HORSE on the driveway.

I miss roller skates, and I miss the primitive skateboards we made by flattening the toe clamps of those skates with hammers and nailing them to 1-by-6s.

I miss go-karts and minibikes, even though I still sport a small scar that attests to the heat put out by a tiny engine block.

I miss playgrounds and zoos and the drive-in movie theater that once featured the first two. The monkeys would throw nasty things at you if you got too close.

I miss baking powder biscuits on Sunday morning and Mom's chocolate cake on my birthday.

I miss Nehi chocolate pop, arguably the second-worst beverage ever created. Bubble-Up surely ranks as No. 1.

I miss lying on the back shelf in the car and watching the trees zip by overhead. I even sorta miss those shelves.

I miss malts that came in steel mixing cups with water glasses to pour them into.

I miss BB guns and slingshots and bows and arrows with rubber tips, because every kid knows if you pull off the rubber tip, the arrow fits nicely in a pencil sharpener.

I miss being a kid.

Send your questions to HouseWorks, P.O. Box 81609, Lincoln, NE 68501, or email houseworks@journalstar.com.

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