My husband has a fondness for bottles made of cobalt blue glass. Fortunately, he has not yet bitten by the bug to collect them -- we have little space here anymore for collections -- but occasionally he finds one. The other day while on a trash pick-up detail we found a blue beer bottle on the side of the road. He brought it back and admired it and then washed it out and tossed it into recycling. But then a few days later he found much larger cobalt blue vodka bottle, also discarded on the side of the road, with a peel off label. That one he is “going to do something with” but is not sure what. Perhaps he’ll use it to store olive oil or find a practical use for it. If not, it will simply sit someplace where he can see it and enjoy its beauty.
His pleasure at finding the bottles reminded me of a wonderful Ray Bradbury story “The Blue Bottle” in a book of his short stories Long After Midnight, which I have written about before here, and so I thought it would be good to read it to him the next time we drove someplace. And so I did.
We were still riding along when I finished the story, and so I turned the page to see what was next. "One Timeless Spring" was the title and as I skimmed through the opening paragraph my eye caught the words “olly olly oxen free…”
I am now of an age when I can actually sit down with the microfiche of my memories and roll through them, much as I did in the spring of 1970 for a report for a history class that led me to sit for several hours in the microfiche collection at the University of Southern California, looking at editions of the Los Angeles Times detailing the beginning of the roundup of some 120,000 Japanese Americans -- many of them who had been born in this country -- who were shipped off to interment camps in late March of 1942 for no other reason than because they were Japanese.
As we motored down the highway, I traveled back another 10 years or so, back to the years when I was in elementary school, when I was 8... 9...10 years old, years when in the early evenings in the summer, after daylight savings time had advanced the clock, that the band of kids that lived in on our block would come to my house and we would play kick the can.
Olly olly oxen free free free…
I wonder how many 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds today have ever even hard those words, much less have played kick the can? Do groups of neighborhood children play together? I don't mean in organized sports that adults have organized, I mean outside in games they have organized themselves. What sorts of memories of childhood games will they have when they look back as 60-something-year-olds?
Now, just for fun, watch this short video (less than 2 minutes long), which is an updated version of a similar video used in a fascinating study done some years back that is detailed in quite an interesting book I have started. Follow the instructions.