The sounds of our world are changing. We’ve muffled the noises; changed rings to tones, buzzes to beeps, and bangs to cushioned snicks. Doors are closed and lives are insulated from unexpected or annoying cacophony.
We’ve left behind some sounds that defined our childhoods, and I miss them.
Remember the sound of a slamming screen door? We ran outside, often at our mother’s demand to GO. Our palm smashed against the mesh as we barreled through the doorway; the spring stretched and SCREAMED in slow submission to our push.
But the best sound was the satisfying WHUMP as the wood met the frame. It was a slam of childhood defiance…a signal that we were flying into the world and leaving quiet behind. Mom didn’t yell at our noisy exit because she knew it would happen. That sound was as much a part of life as the gangly, sweaty arms and legs that made it happen.
Once outside, the world smacked our ears with sounds seldom heard now. Sonic BOOMS. Clothes FLAP-FLAPPING on clotheslines. Window fans WHIRRING and CLANKING in windows as if trying to push the inside outdoors with us.
We rode our bikes with playing cards clothespin-ed to the spokes and imagined the CLICK-CLICK-CLICK noise was our own motorcycle engine. We ran through sprinkler hoses that SPUTTERED and SHUSHED the heat from our sweaty hair and itchy skin.
Summer brought the WHICK-WHICK-WHICK of reel push mowers that chewed grass and rolled across the heat-yellow blades on graying tires. The spinning blades were hypnotic to watch, and we thought cutting the grass that way looked fun to do, until we had to do it.
We knew our neighbors’ business because we heard it all. Wilted curtains slept against open windows at each house we ran past. The kitchen window was the best; ordinary words and stories sailed outside to us—grumbles and laughter, whispers and yells—a symphony of daily emotions that let us know our families were all pretty much the same.
For the complete editorial, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.