Childhood for a Baby Boomer

This year I will become what is now called a "Golden Boomer."  That is one that turns 65.  I have been fortunate enough to be retired for a while and am well on track to living my 6000 days in retirement.  I have high hopes that not smoking, drinking and my new diet will help me add to the total for a good while.  Is 12,000 out of the question?

In the magazine section of the Sunday paper there was a story about a family who lived in San Francisco.  They put up a big redwood fence and then over the years cut holes in it so the kids could move from yard to yard without going out front where the real world lurked with all its dangers.   I feel sorry for those kids that the adults had to make holes in the fences and that the kids left to their own devices did not get to make their own holes.  

I grew up in a section of town where a lot of poor people lived.  I don't want to say it was the poor side of town because we lived life to its fullest and adventures abounded.  We didn't go out and play catch, we had ball games with at least 10 kids on each side.  There was a field up the street that was two blocks deep and made a perfect ball field.  No fences to keep anyone off the field or to keep anyone in.  With our bikes, we could be anywhere about as fast as our parents could drive there and we did our best to keep those two wheeled monsters oiled and aired.  

The neighbor on the north side of us put up one of the first fences on the block.  I am pretty sure it was to keep us out but he said he needed one for a dog.  We never had a dog that needed no fence.  Either they stayed out of the street or they died young and stupid.   What was fun was that my mother had planted a honeysuckle right by where the fence went and had to threaten to wring the neighbors neck if he didn't stop trying to kill it.  We all knew he threw dog turds over the fence over by the peach tree on the back fence and our peaches were so much better than his.  In his defense, I will say that I never thought that Pete, our neighbor, was the sharpest stick in the box.  When he finally sold his 1949 Henry J, he bought a 1971 Chevy II.  He announced one day that he really liked those back up lights, especially at night.  Just for the record, our back yard ended where the Beech Parking lot started and it was always was lit.  We had street lights for free. We never had asphalt on the street but there was always light to scare away the bogey man.

The neighbor to the south put up a wooden fence between our houses but didn't spend any time keeping it in good shape.  As we played a lot of kick the can at night, we found that if we kept one of the slats loose, we could sneak up through the bushes, slide that slat over and get home free.  That was always one of my secrets.  That and filling the can with rocks so those barefooted kids couldn't kick the can very far.  Shoes? who wore shoes in the summer?   I'll bet my feet were tough enough to walk on rocks by mid summer every year.

One thing that I did notice was that as the house two houses down from ours was inhabited by a family with at least 10 kids, the neighbor put up a better fence on the south side of his property.  He kept that fence darned solid and there were no holes to let any of those urchins through.  The good news was they were afraid of our dog Rex   (A small Manchester terrier mix) and all I had to do was start calling Rex if any of them made it up the sidewalk to our house.  If Rex was out they would start screaming and running home, he would give chase.   I don't think he ever bit any of them but they sure treated him like he was a German Shepard guard dog.  

Every school day at 3:15, the school bell would ring and I would strike out for home.  It was grand adventure to cross as many back yards as I could and a test to see how soon we could make it home.  Every day Deputy Dusty Roades would start his program that showed cowboy movies at 3:30 and we never wanted to miss seeing one of those pesky redskins or one of the bad guys die.  All winter we would run home to watch the movies so we could have fodder for our summer adventures.  I'll bet I have killed a  million play acting people and only a few in real life.  (Remember in real life I went to Vietnam and they tried to kill me first)  

Today I have a fence around the place mostly to let people know where our property really is.   It doesn't work to keep cows in or dogs and kids out. In fact there is one side where it doesn't occur because it is across a creek and up a damned hill.  If I ever build a bridge I might get up there and fix that but not today.  

They say good fences make good neighbors.  I think that is a load of crap and they are used only to keep them away.  


1 comment:

  1. MUD, Pam and I once lived in a VERY nice house in an older section of town. The neighbors had all been there forever, and I had known them since I was a kid, due to the fact that I had grown up just down the street from them all.

    None of the lots were fenced, except for a short section between my house, and my neighbor (who had been my Daddy's football coach in high school over 30 years before).

    I was standing out in the yard talking to him, and noticed all the huge cottonwood leaves that had piled up on each side of the fence.

    Coach Kirkland looked at me and said, "Andy...that's all fences are good for...catching leaves..."