What a great story! I was right with you! I grew up in a very different place and at a different time but we had the same mothers who knew everyone and we played in the streets and in the 1960’s no one dared not listen to a parent…anyone’s parent. It was as if they all had some sort of ESP. They were spooky enough that we knew better…we just knew better.
We played football and softball and kickball in the streets. And war. Our grenades were the bulbs of the Southern Magnolias. They hurt like hell when someone actually hit another kid, which wasn’t too often. And at least twice each summer some one of us kids became a bloody mess. My sister lost 4 of her front teeth from flying and falling face first. One kid broke his arm and fell into a trash can behind first. One of those aluminum trash cans. He couldn’t get out because of his broken arm and his stuck behind. We tried to pull him out but he wouldn’t come out…oh, we all got grounded for a week because we called the fire department to rescue him thinking our parents wouldn’t find out. The firemen knocked on the door, of course. Nobody said we were smart.
One Fall when we were probably old enough to know better we had this brilliant idea to push all the leaves in the street into the shape of a person right at dusk. A really big person. Then we hid in the bushes. Cars would drive by and hit their brakes and skid…several of us laughed so hard we wet our panties, me being one. Until we heard the loudest mom yell…some man had stopped and walked up to her house, knowing she had 5 kids so at least one was involved. Actually 3 were. And that was the last time we made leaf people. He sat us down and told us how his mother had died from being hit by a car and how we’d made him sad. My sister started crying. Of course, he made it all up.
I am sorry you were hurt, really hurt. I am sorry all of us who played together were hurt, really hurt at some point but I remember flying and feeling so free and thinking that life couldn’t get any better even with the big boys who stole my bicycle…even they were afraid of the parents so hid our bikes and eventually we found them…and even with the bullies who beat us up. Or the one who locked me in the garage and made me claustrophobic until this very day. I heard my mom calling me for dinner but she didn’t hear me call back and it was dark and full of spiders and roaches and I knew they’d eat me. I just wanted my dinner and some light. My sister finally found me.
Thanks for bringing back that breathless feeling of flying and freedom and smoking and knowing that no matter what happened, someone important would know and help us, even if that someone also popped out behinds.
I hope kids now experience these things and aren’t just stuck in front of phone and computers or games…
I want to call all my old friends. I actually know where most of them still are!
You are the best writer!