Childhood Memories and the Kennedy Tailing Wheels
I spent the early years of my childhood in central California. Most of what I remember was very enjoyable, spending lots of time outdoors with friends, exploring the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I distinctly have fond memories playing on the nearby Kennedy Tailing Wheels — large oval structures erected in 1914 shortly after the California Gold Rush in Amador County. Although the Kennedy Tailing Wheels Park was created in 1973, my time spent exploring the wheels and nearby mining tunnels was well before recent renovations were made to preserve the wheels in 2013. Check out the articles in the Ledge Dispatch (1, 2, 3) if you’d like to know more about these historic landmarks. In 1976, I was able to climb all over them which is no longer allowed today.
"Go Outside and Play"
It was definitely an interesting time. We had a high-strung dachshund that loved to run away when he could. On one occasion he ran between my legs as soon as I opened the back door and raced for the barbwire fence separating our lot from the neighboring forest. He scuttled under the fence before I could reach him and was gone. I spent some time looking for him, calling out his name, when I discovered an open shaft where the Kennedy Mine had excavated decades prior. There was a haphazard fence erected around the hole but nothing really to prevent something from falling in, which had happened. A dead coyote lay at the bottom, its festering corpse still reeking in the summer heat. Today, no sane parent would allow children to play near such dangerous conditions, but back then – “go outside and play” as my mother would often say, and so I did.
Preferring to be outdoors, reading wasn’t much of a priority for me. In fact, I never gave reading much consideration despite encouragement by my grandparents. They purchased children’s editions of popular classics, such as an illustrated version of Black Beauty, with the hope that I would read it. Never happened, but I did enjoy television.
Saturday Morning Cartoons
I couldn’t wait for Saturday morning’s to arrive, because that’s when I would be able to watch cartoons and enjoy the latest “monster movie” on Saturday Afternoon Matinee. My brothers and I would grab a bowl of cereal and park ourselves in front of the “boob tube” while we ate. We’d sit there for hours; drove my Dad crazy. Eventually he would call us outside to assist him with some yard work or other household errand. I was only thirteen, so not very responsible. I’d get upset and pit my mother against my father, hoping that he would relent and let me watch more television. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. And then my parents decided to get a divorce.