Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Old Neighborhood

This past week, I got into some Facebook exchanges with a couple of guys from an early neighborhood I lived in. For one thing, its just really interesting to even hear from these guys since its been over fifty years since I ran around those parts. But, another thing that strikes me is how different we turn out after thinking we were just kids hanging out doing the same things.

I have to say, I had a pretty damned good childhood. My folks were the picture of middle-class. They struggled to make ends meet, all the time. However, I remember Christmas mornings waking up and finding some nifty toys under that tree. I also made the best of what I had. World War II was not a very distant memory for the country when I was starting my formative years. So, kids like me, we went out and played "war". That's how we said it, too. "Hey, Allen, let's play war." But, we would just pick up a wooden stick and in our minds it transformed into an M-1 or a Thomson machine gun.

Parents didn't make a big deal out of us kids pretending to kill each other. I don't know, it didn't seem like such a big thing to us, either. We were left to our own imaginations, a lot. The neighborhood mothers didn't hover over us. We didn't have a lot of schedules to meet. We seemed to be on our own a lot. I remember the first time going into Ray's Corner Store on my own. This place was just two blocks away from my house, but it seemed like such an adventure. Ray was a cranky guy sometimes, but you never felt like you might be in any danger in that little store. I guess you could say grownups throughout the neighborhood seemed to look after us kids.

We forged some memories during those years. I know they're memories that stay with me decades later. The guys we hung around with, we thought we were all the same. We had fun playing "war", we took our sleds down Gertrude Street in the winter, we pushed the envelope every Haloween to see just how many streets we could cover and how many pounds of candy we could end up with. I guess we never thought how different we might be from one another. We all did the same things why would we be any different. But, life comes along and starts shaping you. Experiences you encounter, impact each of us in they're own way. The gang from the neighborhood start heading in many different directions.

So, it can be quite interesting to touch base with men you only knew as young boys. Sometimes finding that these men have outlooks vastly different then your own. It makes you wonder what paths they may have gone down during their life's journey. Then, again, you might just sit back with a glass of wine and say to yourself, "Ray had some great penny candy in that store".

1 comment:

Dottie said...

I had a similar observation after my Dad's funeral at about 2:30 in the morning while talking far into the night with my 4 siblings. It was amazing to me how the distance of geography and time affected our opinion and philosophy. The fact that our "neighborhood" was our family didn't mean we wouldn't have a complete diversity of ideology...well, some of us thought alike but the two who had moved away - did not.

But I figure, we were lucky little kids who had the benefit of listening to Fran's political rants, the wisdom of the gang of old friends, their WWII experience that only the greatest generation seemed to have and their wonderful sense of humor. The gift they gave us was that of an open mind and a joke never far from the lips...