Friday, August 05, 2005
Before I was old enough to go to school, my best friend was a little girl that lived two doors away. We lived in a forerunner of the modern suburban development. The designs of the houses were different but all were the same size and were on lots of the same size. Such things didn't cross my mind in those days, but I assume they were all about the same price. The fathers mostly commuted to Newark, NJ or New York City. (Except for the family directly across the street. He owned and operated the local saloon. Truckloads of bootleg liquor arrived in their driveway in the middle of the night often. Mind you, I wasn't then aware of his income source but thought he was an awfully nice man.) You will note that suburban women did not work outside the home in those days. They stayed home and bandaged knees.
My friend, Mildred, and I largely played out of doors. Mil and I picked wild strawberries in the fields beyond Mil's house. We built forts and climbed trees. We made dams in the gutters along the street out of sticks and the tar that melted in the street in the summer. Also, we did chew melted tar like chewing gum. A bad thing to do. Most of the summer, we wore calamime lotion and scratched our poison ivy if the folks weren't watching. In the evenings of spring we would catch lightening bugs and wonder how they did that. That was when we started being alert for the sound of the Good Humor truck, several blocks over.
In the winter, with our parents helping, we rode sleds down our hill . That was when we built forts of snow. Where the plow piled snow up at intersections we carved our igloos. As the neighborhood grew, so did we - and we wandered farther afield. We and the kids from a few blocks around, ice skated in the winter on the pond in a little park at the bottom of our street. A few years later the town filled in and grassed over the pond, yielding us a baseball and football field. We were quite a bit older, probably almost out of grammar school, before the games became uni-sex. This was during the depression so the game equipment was quite quite modest, but it didn't spoil the fun. Gradually, we entered into a more organized world. There were Boy Scouts, Cubs, Girl Scouts, Brownies, and girls. More later about these extracurricular activities and even later about the wonders of school.