Pop Pop Epistle # 182 – Happy Birthday Bowen (and Memories of an 8 Year Old)

Dear Bowen,

A very very happy birthday to you! In fact, I hope you have a very bodacious birthday!

Eight. What an awesomely great age to be. I remember when I was eight. But now I am 8 x 8. That kind of sounds old don’t you think. And yet…

And yet I can still remember a lot about when I was 8 years old. Which is kind of funny since I sometimes have a hard time remembering things that happened last week.

When I was 8…

  • I was living in Aiken, SC at 633 Aldrich Street in Crosland Park. We were the 3rd house down on the right from Highway 1 which led out of Aiken toward what would later be I-20.
  • I lived with my Mom (Bett) and my brother (Gus – Great Uncle Scott) – my folks had gotten divorced 2 years earlier and we moved from Columbia, SC to Aiken.
  • We had muscadine bushes in our back yard and a tree house in the woods just behind us.
  • Even though we had a very small house, we had a maid named Willie Mae Hamilton who did some cleaning and was at our house in the afternoons because my mom worked. I exchanged Christmas cards with her for many years even after I had left Aiken.
  • I used to jump off the roof of that house (see below) and pretend I was Superman. One time Superman broke his arm.
  • We had 2 dogs. A schnauzer named Chebee and a mutt named Cuba. Cuba and I used to share fudge popsicles. He got a lick then I got a lick.
  • We rode our bicycles all over the neighborhood – never worried about things that parents worry about now.
  • I went to North Aiken Elementary. It was about a mile away. More often than not I walked – crossing a major road to get there. Again, things that were not as concerning as they are nowadays.
  • My third grade teacher was Mrs Fripp. I had friends at school that were named Tommy and Buddy and Mike and Mark.
  • Our favorite things to do on the playground were playing tag and playing marbles. I was one of the fastest kids and was hard to catch.
  • Every so often my dad would come from Columbia (60 miles away) to pick us up and we would go spend the weekend with him.
  • He would often take us to “his club” where he drank with his friends and played cards while we entertained ourselves with pinball machines.
  • His mom, my Grandma (named Hortense – isn’t that a funny name), would take us shopping in Columbia at the beginning of every school year and buy me and Gus new clothes. She would have been about the same age that I am now and I remember thinking that she was really old. But she was really good to us.
  • I had never been to church and had no idea who Jesus was.
  • I took a trip to California when I was 8 to see some relatives and to visit Disneyland (DisneyWorld did not yet exist). It was the first time that I flew on a plane.
  • Lyndon Johnson was President. The Los Angelos Dodgers were the reigning baseball World Champions. The Green Bay Packers were top dogs in football. The US was fighting a war in Vietnam. We had not yet put a man on the moon and there was no such things as personal computers or mobile phones.

I have great memories of being 8. Life was good. Life was simple. Life was fun.

In case you ever wanted to know… Here is a picture of the house I lived in on Aldrich St and of me when I was 8 years old.


So, in the year 2079, should the Lord tarry, you will be the same age that I am now. That’s crazy to even think about. And you will be reminiscing for your grandkids about what your life was like way back in 2023. My guess is that you will have a lot more memories than I do because your mom does such a great job of capturing and cataloguing memories in ways that were not available back when I was 8.

In the meantime, enjoy your birthday and have fun making lots and lots of remarkable memories – memories worth remarking about when you are 64. I’m looking forward to making some of those memories with you.

Never forget that you are very loved,

Pop Pop

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