Wendy Cartwright: Midwest wonders: Mom sounds the siren


By Wendy Cartwright

Guest columnist

Things were very different when I was a kid.

There didn’t seem to be a whole lot to worry about back then. Parents could let their children do more things outside independently than they can today. Of course, we didn’t have smartphones and actually left the house. But that’s progress, I guess.

If we weren’t in school, we were outside. There was freedom, but there were rules. I couldn’t cross the highway unless I was going to the post office or the store, and I had to be home by dark.

All of the kids I knew in our rural Midwestern hometown had the same curfew. Most of us would imitate our mothers when they told us when we were expected to be inside. Imagine a large bird, maybe, sounding a call to the other birds within a 2-mile radius of some important announcement that needed their attention. We’d leave our yards mocking, “B’dark! B’dark!”

In most towns, darkness was signaled by the streetlights. Kids knew to be home by the time they came on. Not in our town.

Our town had an alert all its own. It may have been imitated but couldn’t possibly be duplicated. We had our very own siren. That siren was my mom.

As darkness fell, we could ignore the lights coming on along the roads, but there was no way we could ignore mom’s beckon. She would step out of the door onto the top step and let out a holler so loud it couldn’t be mistaken. We would part ways and head for the house.

My mother was quite famous in our town for her voice. She would yell out my brother and my name, but the neighborhood kids knew that it didn’t matter. She could have been saying anything and we’d all know it was time to go.

My Midwestern childhood was incredible. I wonder if kids today will have such great memories. I’m sure they will, but they’ll be different. I hope they bring about the same emotions I feel today as I think of mine.

Wendy Cartwright hails from the North Vernon area and has lived there most of her life. She is 43 years old. She has a love of sharing her thoughts on growing up in the Midwest and other stories from her life. She spends her days reading and writing in the home she shares with her husband and chihuahua. Send comments to [email protected].

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