Summertime for the pre-teen set has always been a balance between excitement and boredom, and growing up in a small town often dips the scale towards the boredom end. I grew up in Floydada, Texas, a farming community, population 4,000, circa 1970, a very small town, indeed.
My brothers and I were “town kids” and spent summer days traipsing across Floydada in search of some activity to ease the boredom. At least once a week we walked to the county courthouse where the library was located. Before heading downtown, we would scrounge through the sofa cushions and dresser drawers in search of loose change so we could purchase “baby” soft drinks at Arwine’s Drugstore in downtown Floydada. The baby size cost a nickel and was always a welcome thirst quencher after our trek across town.
Not all of my summer was spent in the company of my siblings, though. Often I had the opportunity to hang around with LA (not her real name!) who I envied desperately due to her status as an only child. LA and I spent hours fantasizing about The Cowsills family singing group and how she was going to marry Barry and I was going to marry John and we would live next door to one another in Santa Monica, California. Happily ever after had our names all over it.
But, even our fantasies grew tiresome on occasion, so as we rode our bikes around Floydada we decided to do something to better our community. We had nothing specific in mind, but we continued to chat about the possibilities when we weren’t mentally picking out the swimsuits we’d be wearing when first meeting The Cowsills.
The idea for our service project came when we stopped at one of the gas stations on the main drag to use their restroom. Now, this was before the time of the convenience store, and the ladies’ room was outside, accessible only by key. The condition of the restroom was deplorable. The sink was a mess, paper towels were strewn about the floor, and the toilet–ugh!
Truly I cannot remember whether LA or I came up with the idea, but soon, we were cleaning that bathroom. We decided that folks passing through Floydada needed to see its good side, and that included nice bathrooms. So, for several weeks LA and I pedaled from service station to service station tidying up the bathrooms. Scandalously, we even ventured into the men’s rooms where we glimpsed our first urinals. Heavens! We were now mature women of the world.
Eventually summer ended as did our community service project. When we told our friends what we’d been up to they seemed more horrified than impressed. But there was something satisfying about doing a job no one else wanted, or even noticed. To heck with germs and dirt and potential disease! We were rebels without a clue, cleaning stalls and taking names.