I grew up in a split level ranch on a cul-de-sac with 10 other houses. Many of them like ours. When it was originally built, I’m sure it was not intended to become home to a family with eight children. When we moved in there were: three bedrooms upstairs, one and half bathrooms, kitchen, living/dining room, basement playroom, and a bedroom downstairs. Over the twenty-five years we lived there, the garage had been turned into bedrooms and an addition on the house provided space for a bigger dining area and place to watch television.
Eight kids ranging in age from birth to 16 made for a busy, and often times loud, house. Don’t be mistaken though, there was plenty of order and routine as well; but that many people in a small space it’s bound to be more like a ball park than a library. When I started to think about the writing prompt for today, the first thing that came to my mind was the backyard.
Or, it may be more accurate to say backyard-S. Sandboxes, swing sets, picnic tables, and what seemed like a forest of trees blanketed the dead-end street where I grew up. There was always shade to be found on a hot summer day and a swing to make you feel like, if you “pumped” hard enough, your feet could touch the sky. No matter whose yard we were playing in, when one of moms called out a name, you could hear it all the way up the street.
When I was a kid, there was no real physical separation between properties, one back yard became another and then another. We played where ever there was an open space, a swing set or sandbox. Winters were filled with snow banks high enough to dig forts that fit at least four kids. Summers saw yards with us running through sprinklers, stopping only for a quick peanut butter and fluff sandwich at the picnic table.
I’ve driven by my old house over the years to see how things have changed. Six-foot stockade fences line yards, trees have been cut down; and, even the garage that had been turned into bedrooms to give teenage kids their space, has been turned back into a garage. But no matter, my memories of a childhood home do not depend on what it looks like now.
Today my thanks is extended to the neighbors whose yards we played in, particularly the neighbors who didn’t have any kids!