Memories of a part of my childhood.
|When I was a young girl, we lived in a second floor apartment in an old, red brick apartment building that housed four apartments. To the right and to the left, across the street, and as far around me as I could see, were the same red brick buildings. There was little lawn in front of my building, just a small patch of green divided by the sidewalk leading to the front door. In back of the building I lived in, there was a large, grassy field with a large hill that stood opposite our apartment. The field was bordered on two sides by the back doors of identical buildings. |
My friends and I would run all over the field, playing one game after another. We'd catch bees in pickle jars with holes poked in the top of the caps so the bees would be able to breath. We'd pick dandelions and buttercups and give them to our moms. We'd run up the hill and lie at the top. Ready, Set, Go! We would roll down the hill, laughing with childhood delight, spinning faster and faster, until at the bottom we'd get up, our equilibrium causing us to walk sideways. We'd laugh and laugh and run back up the hill to do it again.
In the winter, we'd trudge to the end of the field to the hill to go sled riding. There would be kids of all ages sliding down the icy hill on sleds, toboggans or just plain cardboard. We'd go so fast, just as excited as could be, trudging back up the hill again and again. I remember running home with my socks and mittens soaking wet, my hands and feet red from the cold. My mom would take them off and put them on the radiator to dry, changing me into warm, dry ones so I could run back out and do it all over again. We would stay out for hours playing in the snow. We'd try to build igloos by making a huge pile of snow and hollowing it out. Sometimes it was impossible; the pile would just crumble. It didn't matter. We'd be laughing and playing and having so much fun!
In the summer, we would go across the street to the railroad tracks near the edge of the woods. We would stand on the tracks (even though I wasn't supposed to), and look as far as we could in both directions. Those tracks seemed endless to me. I can still feel the warmth emanating off of the metal, the wooden planks under my feet, dirt crunching as I walked. The smell of wild flowers was all around and the sounds of the insects calling to each other was constant. We would pick wild berries and eat to our heart's content, our fingers and mouths stained purple or red. We'd pick wildflowers and bring them home to our mothers.
We weren't allowed to walk down the tracks. There were hobos further down the tracks, my mother told me. They lived in a shack in the woods on the other side of the tracks, she said. One day, excited and scared, we defied my mother and started walking, nervously whispering to each other, both of us just a little frightened but never admitting it. A noise in the woods had us racing back to safety. I remember thinking that if I ever saw the hobo, I would give him the flowers I had picked along the way and he wouldn't hurt us.
I didn't know until I was much older that at that time we were considered poor and that we lived in the projects. This may be true, but I wouldn't trade my childhood memories for anything.