Sunday, November 09, 2008

Arizona Still Loves 'Em Some Colors

Maybe its because with the exception of the beautiful blossoms, the desert is all sandy colored. But the state of Arizona has always had a thing for colored highway shields. Back in the 1950s, the state used various colors for their US Highway shields. (CLICK HERE to see a picture of these, including one of the old black on yellow stop signs.) Then they have more recently used colored shields for Arizona state highways.

When I was in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago, I managed to grab these two shots with the cell phone camera. The blue shields are on US 60 as you approach Loop 101, the Agua Fria Freeway. Then at the point you turn onto the entry ramp, there is a white shield. THIS SITE says the blue ones are being phased out. In any case, I found this to be in interesting piece of road geekery.

Arizona also has the distinction of having once had a swastika on its state highway shields (CLICK HERE for an example). These were changed out during the 1940s and 1950s after the ancient symbol (used by the Hopi tribe of American Indians) was used by the Nazis in Germany under Adolph Hitler.

Curtsys and Childhood Games

This morning while watching an episode of the television classic, I Love Lucy, there was an episode where Little Ricky was supposed to perform on his drums, but got a bad case of stage fright. I noticed that the children coming in to play their instruments entered and did something you don't see much anymore. The boys would enter and bow, while the girls would enter and curtsy. It occurred to me that you don't see little girls do a curtsy anymore. Perhaps in certain contexts, such as the courts of royalty, a curtsy would still be done. However, it seems that even after artistic performances, the bow is now done by both genders.

This led me to think about other things that children used to do that you rarely, if ever, see happening. We didn't have Nintendo DS, iPods, and other gadgets that keep kids occupied today. We played simple games, such as Four Square, Jacks, Red Rover, Marbles, Spinning Tops, Duck Duck Goose, and Jumping Rope. Jumping Rope was mainly a girls' game, and the jumping cadence was accompanied by unique stories in the form of rhymes. The stories sometimes related to other girls jumping into, or out of, the rope, while each end of the rope was spun by another girl. I found a website with many of these games and lots of jump rope rhymes that you can visit by CLICKING HERE.

For boys, Marbles, Dodge Ball, and Kick Ball were favorites. Kick Ball was a game played with a big inflated ball that was much like baseball, except that you kicked the ball rather than batting. One of our favorites was playing with wooden tops that you would spin by wrapping a string around and tossing to the ground while pulling back on the string. Many tops had metal points, but the folks at Duncan, the yo-yo company, made a safer top that had replaceable nylon tips. These were a lot of fun.

The things kids have to play with today are pretty cool, but sometimes I wonder if they are missing out on the simple joys and toys of days gone by.

Sunday Morning Musings

As is typical, I awoke well before 5 AM this morning, and although I feel tired, I cannot sleep. So since I am awake and the house is quiet, this seems like a good time to reflect on various things.

Yesterday started out with the lovely spouse and I picking up two of the grandkids and heading to downtown Denver where I participated in a charity bowling event to benefit Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Sadly we learned from our daughter-in-law that one of my granddaughter's most beloved teachers succumbed to brain cancer. This teacher, "Miss Sue", was only in her 40s, but had loved her students, and obviously the feelings were mutual. It is a sad time for Nicole as she deals with the reality that death is part of life, and that losing is part of having loved.

When we got to the bowling venue, the lanes were all taken by participants in the project, but a couple of "no shows" opened a spot for the kids to bowl as well. The LS also played pool with our granddaughter, and toward the end, one of my other sons and his fiancée brought his little 4-year-old stepson who we were watching for the day. So here were grandma and grandpa with all three grandchildren of varying ages. We haven't had just us and three kids since our boys were all children, but we had a good time with them.

Upon leaving the bowling alley, the little guy started crying for his mom. I felt really bad for him, because he really doesn't know us that well yet. But when he saw a little stuffed toy in a store window, grandpa and grandma bought it and he was good to go! We then went for hamburgers at Johnny Rocket's on the 16th Street Mall. The 4-year-old grandson made sure we knew he wanted his burger plain and with no bun. The granddaughter, who is 10, also wanted hers plain, but with the bun, while the 13-year-old grandson wanted his plain with a bun, but with cheese on it. Of course, to be fair, grandpa also has one special request for his burger also...hold the mayonaisse. Mayo on a burger is an abomination to me. I like cheese and all the veggies, but the only condiment that rightfully belongs on a burger is mustard. To go with our fries, the waitress used the ketchup squirter to make us each a little smiley face in small paper bowls. That was a definite hit with the kids.

During lunch, my granddaughter decided she wanted a stuffed toy too, so we went back to the store on our way back to the car and let her pick one out. The kids hadn't had enough bowling, so we headed toward The Brunswick Zone near Park Meadows Mall. However, we didn't get to bowl, because the kids decided they would rather play laser tag. So they played a couple of rounds, hit the crane machines, and then we went home. All in all, a good day!

It is getting colder as we progress into Autumn, and a rain/snow mix is moving into the area tonight, just in time for me to have to fly out through a mess on a business trip that will take me to Oklahoma City and Dallas. Oklahoma City is always a bittersweet place for me, as it was where we spent many Christmases during my childhood, regardless of where we lived at the time. It was where my Grandparents lived and the place I was born, so it was the one constant during my young life. Despite living in different states from coast to coast, OKC was always a place where we returned to every year. Now, all four of my grandparents are buried in the Oklahoma City area, and although I have various cousins who reside around the city, I have not kept up with them.

Of course this year is a big sports year for Oklahoma City, as the NBA's Thunder started playing there after relocating from Seattle where they were known as the Supersonics. OKC hosted the New Orleans Hornets for a couple of years following Hurricane Katrina, and proved that an NBA team could do well there. So now Oklahoma has its very first major league sports team to call its own. While I favor the Houston Rockets and the Denver Nuggets, I may have to pile onto the Thunder's bandwagon too!