Jack’s Five and Ten, Grape and Orange Popsicles and 1 cent fortune gum—the best gum—memories of the past but history of the future. Instead of sitting in traffic on the Kennedy Expressway, we decide to take Cumberland to get us into the city. We hit the city and the neighborhood, streets and areas become familiar. 2543 N. Kilbourn, we are by the first house I remember as a kid. It’s actually and apartment. My parent’s help manage it and took care of the tenants. It is where my sister and I ate our neighbor’s fundraiser Tootsie roll tubes. They looked so inviting in those tubes with the slots at top. Mom was not impressed. “I am going to have to pay for all of those.” Her words still clear nearly 30 years later. I thought to myself, we ate almost all of them. “Oh no!” The backyard comes into view and I remember my childhood play: “I knew a senorita with diamonds in her hair,” my favorite black shoes, the tons of stairs that led down into the back common yard. The garage, the ally. We continue on, “that is the high school you would have gone to if we didn’t move.” Mom says. Kelvyn Park we come upon next. Sprinklers, Metal swing horses—not sure if they were trying to eliminate kids because these swings though fun were deadly! 2825 N. Kenneth, my favorite house. My Mom loved this house. Creativity would sneak in on cold days—tape recording my favorite songs of my favorite station B96. Snowy days Barbies would visit Alaska right out the window of my bedroom. Down the street childhood memories return like the sun on a bright day: neighbors, tragedies, kids and kid stuff. At the stop sign we turn left, Barry Elementary, the grammar school I attended until 6th grade. “Look,” I say to my kids—“that is my grammar school.” “That looks creepy,” they say. I laugh, “you should see the inside.” Past the ally my mom would walk me through when I called home from the office, sick for the 5th time that week. I am lucky she did not follow the “Boy who cried wolf” fable. Teacher problems, I wasn’t really sick. Being a kid seems like a different world as my mind travels back to my childhood. Looking back that different world was forming much of who I am today. Life lessons were learned, fears faced—conquered and not, consequences paid, milestones met. “Mom, I have to pee,” my three-year old bursts out as we are driving. Where will we stop, the neighborhood has changed so much since my childhood, we found a restaurant behind my grammar school. I had not walked near that school in years. A zap, the memories. My kids, our kids, they are in the midst of their childhood. Inventions, technology has increased the speed of life. That is my philosophy anyway. Kids, they are so eager to grow up faster. I am old school I suppose, I say be a kid, cherish your childhood, it only lasts just a short while and “the little years pass so fast.” These are famous words, I hear them all the time. I have no rebuke. I am seeing my kids grow before my eyes.
My heart and prayers go out to those kids whose childhood is less than a childhood in any way. I know that in certain circumstances…childhood can be less than optimal.