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Downsizing childhood memories

Rick Ryckeley's picture

For the second time this year, I must venture down into the darkness. While fighting off creatures in our gloomy, musty basement, I shall retrieve my soapbox, dust it off, and stand upon it once again.

Actually, to be honest, The Wife has to get the soapbox while fending off those spider crickets. I still can’t navigate steps too well due to surgery last December.

Seems picking tomatoes is more hazardous than even I thought, but I digress. This story isn’t about those killer tomatoes in our backyard or a broken hip that’s kept me out of work for six months. Nope, this story is about a far more sinister topic.

So what’s got my shorts in such a bunch this week, you might ask? Simple — they’re downsizing my childhood memories.

The Wife and me, we’ve seen lots of changes over the years. We’ve gotten used to ever-shrinking paychecks. We’ve gotten used to paying more in taxes just to get less. Guess I can even get used to no mail delivery on Saturdays.

But when you start reducing the size of soft drinks and Moon Pies, buddy, we have a big problem.

Growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, things didn’t always go according to plan. I never planned to be a weekly punching bag for Down the Street Bully Brad, but it happened.

Throwing rocks at a low-hanging, paper wasps’ nest unleashed about a gazillion angry wasps, but I had a plan. All I had to do was outrun my brothers. Who knew they could run faster than me or that wasps actually could tell who threw the rocks?

And when Big Brother James said, “It’s safe, you won’t get hurt,” it wasn’t, and I usually did.

Yep, not all our plans actually turned out the way they should’ve. When plans went awry, there were always things we could depend on to make everything better. Waiting at home was a hug from Mom, a Moon Pie so big it took two hands to hold, and an ice cold RC Cola.

Alas, the farther I’ve gotten from Flamingo Street, the harder it has become to find such a fizzy delight in a glass bottle, but I’ve adapted. Even though it’s in an 8-ounce can, Dr. Pepper has been a nice replacement. That is, until last weekend.

Last weekend, when no one was looking, someone snuck into grocery stores all over our fair county. They switched the short fat 8-ounce drink cans to tall skinny 7.5-ounce ones, but the prices remained the same. Short and fat, tall and skinny ain’t the same. And they thought I wouldn’t notice.

This follows the downsizing last year of my beloved Moon Pie – yep, noticed that one, too. One no longer fills both hands.

And let’s not even start on the downsizing of toilet paper. With the new shortened rolls, it would’ve taken a truck load just to roll Candi’s house.

Not that I’m admitting we ever did that, mind you, but if we used short rolls we never would’ve finished before daylight.

With my pontificating about the new smaller sizes of Moon Pies and soft drinks now over, I stepped off my soapbox. Then I asked The Wife if she had an answer to my problem of their downsizing my childhood memories.

Without saying a word, she set two Moon Pies and two Dr. Peppers in front of me.

With the problem solved, she picked up my soapbox and headed back to the basement for another round of fending off spider crickets.

Which, according to her, have not been downsized. Over the years they’ve done nothing but gotten bigger.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, is in his third decade as a firefighter and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]

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