|This is now...it's changed quite a bit in 40+ years!|
We lived on a city block in an apartment. The entire block was apartments with alley's in the back and small parking lots in between every two buildings or so. The clothes lines were in those parking lots and they were surrounded by chain link fences. Someone had planted all kinds of flowers next to those fences so that you could no longer see the fences once Spring had sprung. There were roses of all varieties and, in spite of the fact that I have never been able to grow them, they remain my favorite flower (as you have probably noticed). Forsythia grew like weeds in that parking lot and for that reason, to this day I do not like them...to me they are weeds. There were lilacs also...I love the smell of lilac. And there were honeysuckles that we used to pinch the blossoms from and suck out the sweetness (when you could get past the bees).
|No more chain link...no more flowers.|
But, like most of us, it wasn't ALL bad. I made some great friends in that neighborhood. There was a HUGE tree in the front yard that shaded the building in the spring and summer. The grass didn't grow under it because of the shade and also because us kids played there every day. We played red rover, and freeze tag, and jump rope, and kickball and we ran our cars through roads we made by pushing dirt up into mounds and then carving roads in the mounds.
There were pine trees at the corner of each building that, for some reason, grew so that if you squeezed behind them right at the corner, there was a little space down low that made a great clubhouse. And since there was one at every corner, each clubhouse "belonged" to a specific group of kids and you had to know the password to enter someone else space.
Across the street was vacant land through which ran a creek...well it was more of a stream. Now I know that the land probably didn't meet some guidelines for development because of that stream but for us, it was a vast wilderness that needed to be explored everyday...but only by the older kids...the younger ones weren't allowed for fear they would wander off and thereby get us in trouble.
|The creek is just beyond those bushes and small trees.|
There was also a sidewalk out front that was great for hopscotch, bike riding and running to meet your dad when he got off the bus from work. It was also where a yucky man "flashed" me when I was 7. It was so stereotypical because he actually was wearing a raincoat in the middle of summer (hello police...didn't you think that was odd?). I found it necessary to tell him in my most indignant 7 year old voice that he wasn't very nice before my girlfriend and I fled to the safety of my apartment. I was, for the most part, an honest, outspoken and brave child...I believe I'm still all of those things.
The basements of all of the apartment buildings were connected and so it made a GREAT haunted house at halloween...or so I was told. I was never allowed to go which really made me angry but my parents thought I was too young and they didn't want me scarred...you've got to love the irony of that statement.
We moved not long after the race riots that took place after Dr. King was murdered. Race relations were tense then and I was a little white girl who was getting beat up on a regular basis because of it so we moved to the suburbs. It was sad because I loved that neighborhood with all my heart. My father had just begun to lose his eyesight (he had Retnitis Pigmentosa) so he was still working and his drinking had yet to get out of control. My mom was a mess but I don't think I realized it until I was much older. I think in my mind that move divided my childhood. Before the move things were good, after the move not so much.
Of course that wasn't true and as an adult I know that in my head, but my heart holds it's own memories.
So thank you honeysuckle bushes for reminding me that I do have good childhood memories and that going back and remembering them does not have to be painful. Rather, it can be a pleasant and lovely experience that fills me with nostalgia and helps me remember a time when I felt loved.