A to Z April Challenge

During the month of April I will be doing a different spin on my memoir posts. It starts with a song. Each song will be followed by a brief essay that is evoked or inspired by that song. You might want to click on the YouTube link to hear the song as you read the piece I've written. Or you can listen to the song lyrics first and then read. Whichever way you choose, I mostly hope you'll read and leave a comment with your thoughts about my post. Thank you for visiting and please follow the blog if you are not doing so already.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: guest post by Wendy Mathias


        I first discovered Wendy Mathias's blog Jollett, etc. during the A to Z Challenge.   I was fascinated with her detailed accounts about her family history.  Even though it wasn't my own family, I found the stories and accompanying photos to be interesting as well as entertaining.  Wendy accepted my invitation to visit us here at Wrote By Rote with a story from her childhood.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  
        I’m a lousy neighbor. If it weren’t for our neighborhood directory I wouldn’t know who lives three doors away. But I can tell you the names of every family on Frailey Place where I grew up. There were eight houses on our block, and each one had kids to play with. And each one had a mother who gladly offered me a sandwich and Kool-Aid and who wasn’t afraid of offending my mother by calling me down for not playing nice or sending me home for staying too long.

       For a short time my family lived in the apartment that my grandparents rented above their house. Their yard and their garage were my playground and the main neighborhood hangout.  It was my grandparents’ property, so I was the boss and I made the rules. That’s only fair, right? Honestly, it’s a wonder anyone put up with me and this nonsense.

My grandparents' house and garage
at the corner of Gillis Road and Frailey Place
       The garage made a suitable playhouse where we could construct walls from old window screens and chairs from old paint cans. Sometimes it was a house. Sometimes it was a school. Sometimes it was a hideout for robbers or for eagles that kidnapped children.

       For my friends Peggy and Mary “Eagles” was their favorite game. (I think they made it up.) Peggy was oldest, which gave her first dibs at being the Eagle who would chase the children in this hybrid game of Tag and Hide’n’Seek.  And it scared the living daylights out of me. Evidently I believed that kidnapping part.

       My grandparents also had the longest sidewalk on the block, making it the preferred choice for Hop Scotch, Red Light Green Light, and Mother May I. It was also an acceptable place for roller skating, but the best skating spot was across the street at the Horniks’. Their driveway was divided by grass separating the two tire lanes leading to a carport. Our skates became cars as we drove up one tire lane and down the other. Round and round we went. Sometimes we lived dangerously zipping past “the car” ahead on one skate.  In the carport we spun in circles, skated backwards, and practiced figure eights.  Meanwhile just on the other side, the Horniks were conducting their accounting business out of their house, but never once did they shoo us away or tell us to hold it down.  They don’t make adults like that anymore.

        In the late afternoon, we played in the street. Yes, IN the street! The high school girls would gather to practice cheerleading.  They jumped and touched their toes, then jumped again, contorting their bodies with backs arched and arms over their heads to form the letter “C” for Cradock High School.  Oh, to be like Sherry, Barbara Ann and Betty! 

Anne, Mary, Peggy, and ME in dress-ups 1961
I was inspired by a movie star
dressed in short shorts with a long flowing top.
       But we were years away from such coolness. Peggy, Mary, Anne, Katherine, Donna, and I amused ourselves with jump rope instead. The slap of the long rope against the road always invited everyone to join in, even the cheerleaders from time to time. Games like High Water Low Water, Blue Bells Cockle Shells, I Love Coffee, I’m a Little Dutch Girl, Not Last Night, Peas Porridge Hot, Mabel Mabel Set the Table, and Down By the River tested our ability to jump, to turn around, to touch the ground, and to jump in and out without missing. If the rhyme called for “hot peppers,” it was sure to draw a crowd to help count.

       As afternoon slipped into evening, Crack the Whip, Freeze Tag, or a game of Hide’n’Seek brought the boys out to play too.  Not my game.  Usually it was “my yard-my rules,” but this was a game I could not control.  I was not a good hider and certainly not a good runner.  Maybe I just didn’t like being a loser. I preferred to call it a night. 

       I’m not going to say my childhood was enchanted or magical.  Nobody ever believes that.  But it was pretty darn good. 




        Be sure to visit Wendy at her blog http://jollettetc.blogspot.com/

         Do you have childhood memories similar to Wendy's?   What are some of the games that you played as a child?    How have things changed for kids today?   What has become better, if anything, and what are the biggest losses from yesteryear?






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18 comments:

Sally said...

I also follow Wendy and find her posts really interesting and entertaining and never boring. Well done Wendy.

Amanda Socci said...

First of all, I am amazed that it is now 6:10 a.m. EST on Saturday and a new blog post is up. Amazing. Second, I think this blog is going to become very important as I am embarking on new adventures in memoir writing right now. So, thank you, Arlee, for stopping at my blog and letting me know about you.

I enjoyed Wendy's warm description of her childhood. Reminded me so much of those old Country Time lemonade commercials where everybody is sitting around on a porch enjoying each other's company.

Rob From Amersfoort said...

"I'm a little Dutch girl dressed in blue,
Here are the things I like to do.
Salute the Captain, Bow to the queen,
Turn my back on a big submarine!"


You girls had a lot of imagination!

Sue McPeak said...

Arlee...what a find for a 'Guest Blogger'! Wendy's a terrific story teller and has a way of drawing readers right into her family stories that brings back those 'GoodOlDays' of our own Family Memories. Like you, I've been enchanted with Wendy and her blog since the AtoZ Challenge.

Wendy...I love this'Neighborhood' post with the jump rope coolness!!! Ain't it funny how geography could determine the name of the game...like in Texas we didn't do Down by the River...no rivers in the desert....but High Water Low Water...yep...the Pecos River was usually LOW! And HOT PEPPERS...you betcha...the hotter the ground on bare feet...the faster you jumped. LOL!!!

I must say you were quite the Movie Star Wannabe! And now look atcha...a Blog Star!!!!

Linda Jackson said...

What a beautiful post. Thanks for the memories. :)

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

I have just met Wendy. I did love this story although I am a little old than she is we played every one of the games she mentioned. some I had even forgotten. A lovely nostalgic post.
QMM

imagespast said...

Gosh, you have a good memory to recall all the names of the games you played - I need to get together with my best friend from school and see if we can remember some between us. Sounds like you had a lot of kind and friendly adults around :-)

Gossip_Grl said...

Enjoyed reading the posting and the nostalgia of the times brings back so many memories of growing up. I agree Life just seemed so simpler back then. Great posting!

M said...

I saw the picture on Wendy's blog and then to come her and read the entire post is even better!

Jump rope and Hide and Seek were the games I remember most. I didn't have a neighborhood full of kids but we made do with the few there were.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

A great guest blogger Lee, most enjoyable to read.

Yvonne.

Arlee Bird said...

Wendy-- Thanks for the wonderful post.

And thank you to all those who have commented so far and for the comments to come.

Lee

Jana Last said...

Well done Wendy, as usual! You really are a great storyteller. I was taken back to the days when I was outside playing with the neighborhood kids. Fun memories! Thanks for sharing!

Eve said...

Wonderful! I remember some of the games you mentioned, Wendy..mostly I remember playing outside, sometimes till it was almost dark..and we also had a couple of mothers in the neighbourhood who would give us kool aid and treats..no one thought it was 'weird'...also, back then, we called adults Mr. or Mrs, never by their first names..we live in much different times now! Thanks for a wonderful, nostalgic read!

Dee said...

Dear Wendy, thanks so much for sharing these childhood memories with us. I was born probably about 20 years before you but the games of your generation were mine also. Such wonderful memories of summer and the sun starting to set and being called home.

Peace.

Susan Kane said...

Great memories, Wendy. Your photos could be mine. Thanks for sharing it all with me.

cestlavie22 said...

Lets see childhood memory- I think my favorite memory was our neighborhood baseball games. When I was younger I lived in a very small neighborhood with friends all a few houses away. Often we would go to a neighbors house and play baseball girls and boys together. It was some of the best times!

Lynn Proctor said...

wonderful vivid memories of what sounds like a very happy childhood :)

Wendy said...

I appreciate all the kind comments and visits at my blog. Arlee, thanks for the encouragement.