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52 Stories #9—Childhood Hobbies and Pastimes

What does a girl do while growing up in the oilpatch in the 50’s and 60’s? During my childhood we lived in small towns in Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming as my dad pursued a career on the road as a petroleum landman. Because he was gone a lot and my mother did not know how to drive, we entertained ourselves mostly at home. I found several ways to do that:

  1. I loved dolls. I named my earliest one Carol, and I played with her a lot. When she was not enough and I wanted an additional doll, I requested a bride doll for Christmas. Naughty me—I opened the suspected gift ahead of time when my mother was not looking. Of course, I found out it was the perfect doll, but then I had to re-wrap it and act surprised when Christmas Eve rolled around. When I was a little older during my elementary school years, I often played Barbies with the neighbor girls. About the same time, my grandmother gave me a set of dolls representing the countries of the world, and I had many hours of fun with them, too. Troll dolls became popular when I was about 10, and I acquired a collection of those as well. I liked making and decorating houses for them out of cardboard boxes.
  2. During the second grade, I discovered a love of reading. I had received a “D” in deportment at school that year because I talked too much and disturbed the other children. My Dad decided the cure for me was to carry a fat book to school every day and pull it out whenever I had nothing to do. That year I began reading the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and animal stories by Thornton W. Burgess. Dad took me to the library every weekend to replenish my supply of reading material, a habit I still follow.
  3. My mom took time to teach me the needle arts beginning when I as nine or so. I disliked making clothes, knitting, and crochet. Embroidery did appeal to me, and I finished a set of pillowcases for my first project. Over the years I have decorated many pieces of linen and clothing. I have sacks full of patterns, fabric, and embroidery floss.
  4. I learned to appreciate music as a small child. My brother and I shared a record player and a stack of records. In second grade I started piano lessons, and then I began choral singing a year later when we moved to Wyoming. We belonged to a church within walking distance of our house, and I joined the after-school children’s choir. On and off over the years I have continued to sing in a church choir, and my current one will tour in Germany later this year. I have also been called upon to play the piano sometimes for different groups, and currently I serve as the Musician for my local Sons of Norway lodge.

Looking back now, I am surprised at how sedentary my early life was despite living in an area known for outdoor recreation. My parents just had no interest in the outdoors beyond taking care of their own yard. They never took us for open-air activities such as camping, hiking, or skiing although they saw to it that we acquired life skills like riding a bike and swimming. Beyond that, we did not participate in any sports or attend sporting events.

Nowadays, I still pursue my early interests of reading, embroidery and music. None provided me with a way to make a living, but each has enriched my life. I am glad I have had the opportunity to learn and enjoy these hobbies.

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