Friday, November 16, 2012
I walked to school, rode my bike, roller skated, pulled and was pulled in my little wooden wagon. My mother and I walked to the grocery store and we pulled the thisas and thatas home in that same wagon. We visited neighbors, crossed at the corners, went to the library, ran to the drug store, strolled to the movie theater, called in at the church, relatively safe from passing trucks, cars and buses. On the sidewalks we waited for our best friend to come out to play, set up a hopscotch game, played jacks and jumped rope. We played mumbly peg and hide and seek on the grass, but kick the can was played on the sidewalk. During the war we tied cans to our shoes and stomped up and down the sidewalks until the cans were smooshed flat for metal recycling collection. When it snowed the first job of every kid over the age of 6 was to shovel the sidewalk. It was not just to get to school, or so our moms had dry feet on the way to the store, it was so our dads could catch the bus to work without catching cold. Everyone knew that to go all day with wet feet ended badly. Probably with "P-new-mon-ya"...and hafta call the doctor, a fate worse than death, which would end with a shot at the least as well as being asked who it was that DIDN'T clear the snow off the walk. Sidewalk defined our neighborhoods. This side was ours, that side was theirs. Yes, there were sidewalks on BOTH sides of the street. Little old ladies guarded their blocks jealously and vigorously. The sidewalks were safe with them on duty. They did not hesitate to dress down a bully, or dress a wounded shin for that matter. They knew where we lived, where we went to school, they knew our mothers, and often our grandmothers and would call them if need be. And if "need be" was called for, you probably would get a paddling when you got home. Sometimes the little old ladies were little old men. It really didn't matter, and as much as we fussed about the "nosey parkers" watching from behind their curtains, we knew nothing really bad could happen with them on duty. Watched sidewalks were just part of the upside of small town living.