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Archive for July 26th, 2008

Going back to one’s home town as an adult leads to a flood of memories. As I approach my village, I look for the white picket fence, the landmark to my street that I have known all my life.  I played in that yard as many others did in our neighborhood.  My favorite memory in that house was making shadow boxes out of shoe boxes.  We used popsicle sticks and scraps of fabric to make little dolls and furniture inside.

On a bigger scale though, the real hallmark memory is the carnivals we  had inside that fence.  We kids would spend all summer preparing a neighborhood carnival.  The spook house would go in the basement.  Refrigerator  boxes would magically transform into ticket booths and game booths. Kool-aid and cookies would be prepared.  Begging merchants to donate money or toys for prizes was our only source of funds.  But, with a little creativity, by the end of the summer the carnival would materialize.  All in all, it was a bonding experience and a memory that we will continue to relive the rest of our lives.

Another source of entertainment for me was keeping an eye on the family across the street.  This family had six kids, which I envied.  I only had one sister, but they had almost a whole baseball team!  Back then, it was common practice for parents to make their kids play outside all day with little supervision.  So there was always an interesting show for me me to watch from my front porch. The two oldest were my age and a year younger and alternated as my friend.  I say alternated because they refused to play together.  Basically the rule they set was that who ever was playing with me first got to do so for the day and the other had to find something else to do.  But they didn’t always agree with this and tantrums often followed.  My all time favorite was when one of them threw the other’s bike in the middle of the intersection and planned to leave it there until they could play too.

But mostly the family was fun to have around.  Uncountable hours were spent on our two porches playing cards, monopoly, or just chatting.  There was always hopscotch, riding bikes, and roller skating in the summer and  building leaf forts and collecting chestnuts in the fall.  The summers seemed sunny and endless.  The park was around the corner, the candy store was down the street, and the gas station across from that big picket fence had a soda machine that had creme soda.  What more could a kid want?

Childhood memories were, with time, turned into teenage memories.  Although we didn’t “play” anymore, the porch was still our social area.  Our daytime vigilance turned into late night.  Upon coming home from dates or our part time jobs, we would sit on the porch till the wee hours of the morning comparing our days, gossiping about friends, watching the traffic go by.  It was as much of a routine in our day as brushing our teeth.  Our worlds were expanding but the comfort of the porch and a best friend were of the utmost importance.

A while ago I went back to my home town for a visit and there was a crowd on the neighbor’s porch.  As always, I had to join them!  One son was there with his children and one sister was passing by, all grown up and gray with age.  Their dad seemed happy.  The little ones had sidewalk chalk and invited me to join them.  Before you know it, I was lying down one the sidewalk and Christina was tracing my body.  The sun was warm and I melted into the model role with no regrets.  There I was laying beneath the big chestnut tree I knew so well.  I smiled about the chestnuts remembering how shiny they were peaking out of their prickly shell.  I remembered those crisp mornings before school going outside with anticipation of a wind fall from the old tree, hoping to find a small, flat sided chestnut or a double one not yet out of it’s shell.

It felt so great to be a kid again.  Just those few minutes of stepping out of my adult world.  To feel the side walk warm on my back, the sillyness of the children’s giggles, the chalk tickling my fingers as it passed by.  Although I was a bit self conscience, I also felt a sense of calm wash over me.

So, my friend, let’s be kids again sometime soon!

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