The street that I grew up on. The house is the house we grew up in.
We played tackle football on that road. Baseball in that gravel lot, which is directly across from our house.
The little white building pictured? That was Major’s Market. If you had a quarter you could get a sixteen ounce Coke, or Pepsi if you prefer, or DR Pepper as I preferred. You could also get a large candy bar, and a handful of penny candy. All for that quarter. We used to love to walk down to Major’s Market and spend our money.
We used to get up on the roof of that building that fronts the gravel lot, which is a lumber storage barn, with a neighbor’s ladder to get our baseballs a few times a week. There would usually be three or four along with someones kickball, football, or basket ball. The tackle football was a sometime thing. The thing being it never lasted long before someone got pissed and got in a fight. It hurts to be tackled on pavement. But once we walked about a mile to play football on the lawn of a church, and when we got there a funeral started and the minister told us we’d have to leave. So we just played in the street.
You didn’t have to worry about traffic, yes all the families owned cars, but most of the dads were never around, so the cars weren’t around much either. You could play for a good two hours and never have a car come along. And if one did? Well, I hate to say it, but we weren’t so quick to get out of the street. After all it was our street, our neighborhood, go drive somewhere else. And, as I mentioned, it wasn’t likely to be anyone from the street.
The blank area that looks like an old driveway full of bushes, is where the railroad tracks ran behind the lumber company. It doesn’t look like much now, but that was our private park back there. There were four tracks, three of them almost dead, one that ran from north into the city. The whole area was overgrown, and I think every kid on the block had a fort back there somewhere. Also the trains used to stop there to pick up lumber, and or drop lumber off. So there were huge concrete loading docks that we could survey our kingdoms from.
Most of us boys used to go camping every weekend. That area in back of the lumber company was a great place to leave our bikes. It was our neighborhood, and kids for blocks around knew it. Nobody who wasn’t from the neighborhood went in there, so your bike was safe for the weekend. Leave the bikes, jump up on the rails and start walking north, balancing on the rail, toward Black River (Where I now Live). When we hit the small village of Huntingtonville we could fish, swim in the Black or both.
There was a dam that many of us balanced across the top of to make our way to a small island in the middle of the river. It was an abandoned island. And we explored every inch of it at one time or another.
We would find a place to camp out. Either a farmers field, or somewhere in the miles of forest that surrounded the Black, and even a long stretch of land that followed the river bank. Flat but isolated. It had once been a railroad bed, abandoned for years.
Sunday we’re back on the tracks, balancing our way back to Olive street, pick up our bikes (That way we didn’t have to go home) and head for Thompson Park.
Walk those bikes up two miles of hill, hit the top, turn around and ride like the wind down off the park hill. If you hit the lights right, or dared to run them, you could coast all the way to the public square. After all it was Sunday, everybody else was at church.
We would end up at the First Baptist Church on the Public Square (A new England town square). I knew my sister Connie Maxon was inside that church. I of course was a rebel and so I went to Catholic church sometimes with dad. Given a preference I’d rather go camping though. But that is the same sister that got me to love God by giving me a cassette tape (Jesus Christ Superstar). Then I had an accident and met God. Then two years on the street, addiction, alcoholism, running away from life, family, God. But life eventually got me back to that connection I had lost.
The house looks a little different. The neighborhood a little rougher, if that is even possible. Somebody turned the little market into an apartment. And the city ripped up all the tracks that we used as our own private path to the entire world. But even if the pictures are different from what I remember, I still feel that love for those days when I look at them, Geo Dell.