I grew up on a dead-end street–a dirt road at first, then coarse gravel, then fine gravel, and finally paved–adjacent to the neighborhood school and playground, the high school football field, and a wonderful big woods.
Let me focus in on our next-door neighbor, Mrs. Thomas, an elderly widow. I say “elderly” because I was just a little kid and she looked elderly to me. Probably she was younger than I am now.
Mrs. Thomas had a dog, Old Brownie, who had the run of the neighborhood because he could be trusted never to abuse his freedom, and who was always available to listen to your troubles with a sympathetic ear. She had a large, tree-less back yard, ideal for our football games, and a hedge out front that served us for a volleyball net
You’d think she’d be unnerved by all these kids playing on her property, but no–she liked it. If you got cold or wet and didn’t feel like going home just yet, she had you in to warm up with some cookies. And there were always a couple of us available to run an errand for her: we had a little grocery store just around the block, and Mrs. Thomas didn’t have a car. We kids shoveled her walk when it snowed, and one or another of our fathers mowed her lawn. I think it’s safe to say that everybody loved her.
It was a long time ago, and it was a good time: I’m here to tell you it was better than the times we live in now. Old Brownie would surely agree.
P.S.–Thanks to Marlene, whose eloquent comment yesterday inspired this.
(If this called up happy memories for you, and if readers are interested, I can expand this into a series of sketches. There’s just no way I can summon up the whole neighborhood in just one blog post.)