By Craig Hastings
It’s getting late in life and I’m determined to make my age “just a number”. So I decided to get back to the basics that I’ve had success with most of my adult life. For those of you that doubt that I haven’t been a real adult for most of my life; can you start me at say, maybe thirty years old? You see, up until about thirty staying fit was easy, I was young and kept busy most of the time. I was working at True Value Automotive, now Do It Best Automotive, and therefore required to be on my feet all day and using my hands a lot. Of course there was always some sort of heavy lifting required in a shop that repaired anything related to lawn mowing machines. I was having the time of my life. I was doing something I enjoyed, lived away from home and was able to afford to live away from home. Just barely sometimes but roommate Scott and I always managed to scrape up the rent and utilities expenses with a little left over to go out with friends a couple of times a week. Anyway, staying fit was easy. It happened without me even noticing. This was all going in my life in the 70’s. Remember the 70’s those of you in my generation? Was there ever a better time for sitcoms on television? Chips, Welcome back Cotter, Magnum PI, Three’s Company, Sanford and Son, All In The Family, Moving On Up..! Life was good. When I couldn’t be home I fired up my trusty VCR and recorded all of them when necessary.
In 1980 I got married and in 1984 I got divorced and this required me to move home for a financial recovery time out. Without any details…all my fault. Great girl, bad me, someone a person would be considered very lucky to spend their life. Well that’s enough of that! Moving on. Home was back to the Hillcrest subdivision and to my parent’s house. The same house I moved into when it was built new in 1960. I was three years old. Our house was the forth or fifth house in the subdivision. New homes and new families with children the same ages of my brothers and sister and I were moving in every year for the next eight to ten years. For you millennials, we didn’t have cell phones or computers so we were required to actually leave our homes to socialize with our friends. You may think this was a horrible situation in which we had to live but; you haven’t a clue just how wonderful and gratifying it was to meet up with your friends.
So how did we know when it was time to go outside and meet up with friends in the neighborhood? We didn’t. When the sun came up we went out. When the sun went down we went…we went…well it depended on the time of year or time of the week. If it was summertime and school was out, we stayed out until called in by one of someone’s parents. That call was a loud shout from a front porch. When school was in session and weather permitted and it was Friday or Saturday again, we stayed out until called in. My parents let my brothers and my sister stay out until 2:00 a.m. in the summer and on weekends as long as we stayed within about a fifty yard perimeter of our own home. This was perfect because my late night homies were Alan Page, Jim French, Gary French, and Jeff Eaton. All within the boundary. Darrell Cummings was one of the late night gang members, but he lived about one hundred and fifty yards from me. Fortunately for him his parents let him hang with us as long as we all stayed out of trouble. It was the neighborhood parents that were the police. They all kept a close eye on us with their fields of view from all their windows and doors. It wasn’t just eyes either. Only about half of the homes had air conditioning back then so, parents sat outside at night to stay cooler than being inside the house. They could easily hear us rambling about and the more of us in the pack the louder we tended to be. Alan Page and I would walk from East to West and back again and again all night some nights just talking and having fun. No cell phones required nor would have any cell phones been allowed in our friendship.
I moved into an apartment about two years after moving back in with my parents. Alan Page coaxed me into playing slow pitch softball with a team he played for in Arcola. Arcola Orange I believe was the name of that team. Much to my surprise I fell in love with the game. It was much more difficult to play than I expected, which required me to be more fit than I had been keeping myself since graduating from the police academy in 1980. I bought my first house, this house, my only house, in 1994. Most of you know this house is also in the Hillcrest subdivision from which I was raised starting in the summer of 1970. There’s no place in town where I would rather live. Most of my family still lives out here in homes of their own.
After my slow pitch softball career ended, I think sometime in my late forties, I needed something to keep me fit. I was still a police officer so of course I wanted to stay fit enough to run someone down on foot and to fight my way to success in a bar fight which there were many back in the day. I continued to lift weights and run right out here in Hillcrest on the same streets plus two more I had most of my life. For whatever reason, probably because I was content and lazy, I stopped running as much but did walk out here. I had dogs so walking was required whether I wanted to or not. So as I approached my fifties my last dog passed away and I didn’t find another. I was emotionally crapped out after burying my last German Shepherd, no more dogs. Running and walking ended and my weight lifting tapered off to a point it had never reached since the mid eighties. I justified my slow down with my age. I was lying to myself. I was lazy. Something I thought I never do after watching so many of my friends just flat out let themselves go.
So six weeks ago I decided to start over. I am working my way back to my conditioning routine of the 80’s. I’m back lifting weights all in again and I’m walking/jogging most every night. I will usually walk after 10:30 p.m. It was about this same time Alan Page or Jim French and I would be walking these same roadways in the 60’s and 70’s! Walking in the dark will stir memories of when I walked up and down Hillcrest Drive fifty plus years ago! I walk by the same houses all of my friends lived in back then. I remember two girls in particular I would watch for on my walks; Cheryl Page and Vicki Morris. Yes Cheryl was Alan’s sister and he gave me grief about her but we ended up dating in High School. It was tonight on my walk that I thought this might be a story I would share with you.
The heck with leaving Tuscola when I was young! I never made it past leaving the Hillcrest subdivision! And tonight after all the memories of days and nights long ago, I thank God for planting my roots right here and never pulling me from the ground. When I pass I pray that it will be right here in this house, unexpectedly, peacefully, and pain free! Am I asking too much? Hey, I just thought of this; the Township of Tuscola bought the land right across the street from me for future cemetery plots. Hmm, I wonder if…