Memories of my early childhood home are sketchy. Little bits and pieces of my life in Farmingdale, New York. Our little house, the fruit trees in the back yard, the grape vine behind the garage. I only recall the cherry tree producing and we picked and ate them a bit too soon. I remember riding a sled down the hill we lived on. Not a steep hill but good enough for sledding in the winter and for riding my little red wagon down in the summer. One summer we put together a thick plank, some old wagon wheels, and some rope to make a summer toboggan to ride down that hill. It carried several kids. We weren't very good engineers and the thing had no brakes. It got out of control and we all ended up with abrasions and bruises.
I was not an athletic kid, skinny and undersized. I tried to play baseball but wasn't very good at it. I wasn't musically inclined either. About the only thing I was good at was climbing trees and I even fell out of those on occasion. I roller skated on metal wheeled clamp-on skates. You adjusted the length of the skates to fit your shoes, tightened up the toe clamp, and you were good to go. They worked well enough on concrete sidewalks and asphalt streets. Stopping was easy if you were on the sidewalk, you just headed for the nearest lawn. On the street you had a bit of a problem since we had curbs thus more skinned knees.
We flew kites a lot. My grandfather showed me how to build a kite from scratch. You took a newspaper, some paste, a spool of string, a strip of cloth for a tail, and some thin sticks, added a little grandpa magic and *poof* you had a kite. Kites cost less than 25 cents so I didn't build any when he wasn't around. One of these days, I'll try building a kite... just to see if I can.
I liked summer. Wild raspberries, honeysuckle vines, sitting up on the top of the hill at the edge of the Woods and looking over the whole town. We used to call it the "King's seat". It was an old stump sitting next to the drop off. Looking back, I figured this was where they cut into the hill when building the housing development I lived in. The Woods was an undeveloped area belonging to a fairly rich family. In those days, they didn't have to worry about lawsuits and let the neighborhood kids play there. It was an area maybe 4 blocks in size but it was Sherwood Forest or Indian Country or an island where pirates buried their treasure or anywhere a child could imagine.
Those were carefree days. It was a time when you could spend hours in a "Five and Ten" (aka "Woolworth's") deciding how to spend the quarter you found. Or, for that same quarter, you could spend an afternoon at the movies watching a double feature. And, if you had another twenty cents, you could have popcorn and a soda.
That was the upside of those days. The downside was the septic tank that had a very difficult time handling a house with 2 adults and 5 children, a house with only one bathroom, a house with steam heat using not quite enough radiators, no air conditioning except at the bigger stores and the theater. I'd add mowing the lawn with a push mower (no motor) but I was too young to do mowing.
All that disappeared from my life in the Spring of `56 when my family moved to south Florida.
A Night Unremembered
7 years ago