I know many of you will relate to this piece. I grew up in the best neighborhood ever. And, I mean E V E R! I’m sure your neighborhood was the best E V E R as well.
As I sat in the back seat of my Mom’s black Lincoln Continental with my little brother, my Dad followed their realtor up the curving streets to look at my now childhood forever home. Looking out the window side-to-side out the back window wondering which house we would be stopping, I see a boy and a girl jumping on a trampoline. With excitement I said to my Dad – “Daddy!! Can we buy this house? My friends live here!” He said – “We haven’t even pulled into the driveway yet.”.
There they were – Julie and Barry – jumping on a trampoline laughing and playing. I don’t remember much of actually looking at the house. All I could think about was my friends live in this neighborhood!
At the time, we lived with my Grandma Lena Belle because our old house sold really quick. Blessedly, we didn’t have to rent anything until we found our forever home. School had started so my Mom enrolled me in the elementary school for the area which was awesome because my cousin, Billy, went to Clay Elementary and it was next door to my aunt’s house so changing schools for a little while was nothing for me! It wasn’t scary at all with my aunt living next door and with having the same classes with my cousin because we are the same age. Billy and I were crowned King and Queen of Clay for the Fall Carnival. We had Pringle chip cans that we decorated and asked people for spare change. Whoever raised the most money were crowned King and Queen. I remember my Dad taking our cans to work with him and came home with them filled. Yep, we won! Thanks Daddy.
My Grandma’s driveway was long and my Mom always sat on the porch waiting and watching for me to come down the drive. One day after school, Mom was sitting in the porch swing that I spoke about in an earlier piece and when I made it to the landing of the porch she said – Your Dad bought the house. I squealed with the excitement!! I’m not sure how excited my mom was at the time – the house is huge and a lot to take care of especially with two little ones and a neighborhood full of kids in and out all of the time. My house was the house everyone came to when it was raining when we wanted to roller skate. We put a lot of miles on that basement floor going around and around.
Julie’s side yard is the best sledding you will ever have! The perfect slope and a little ramp at the bottom that when you were at the right speed, you could jump over the little ditch. If not, you landed right in it! We would be out all day. We didn’t want to go in because we were afraid that we wouldn’t be allowed to go back out! So, you waited as long as you possibly could before going home – even to go to the bathroom. Mom would always have the fireplace going and hot chocolate with marshmallows ready after we got out of our wet snow clothes.
So many amazing memories are rushing back writing this ~ what actually inspired this post came from conversations while we were out supporting the arts listening to music at the French Art Colony with friends this past Thursday. Many whom I grew up with either as classmates or friends of my parents. My friend Cindy, was talking to a friend of my parents who still lives in the neighborhood that Cindy grew up in – Debbie Drive. She and Cindy were talking about her son that was a classmate of ours who came in to town the previous weekend for short visit. They were reminiscing about their neighborhood and the kids and how everyone left in the morning and didn’t come home until dark. Lunches were packed and off they went. Our curfews were night lights. If a parent yelled a name – you all listened and you all went home. There were no cell phones. No Life360. Street Lights and parent voices. I forget what they called the wooded area they played in all of the time. Bev laughed and said – I guess I should have worried about snakes and I said and ticks! Those tiny ticks that are around now had to come straight from Hell. I don’t ever remember those as a kid. Bev also told us about when she was little and that she and her friends would get on a bus in Indianapolis and ride for a quarter downtown and spend the day. I asked what age they were and she said probably twelve. They would go to a diner and have lunch and shakes then spend the day in town. And that was in a big city!! I can’t even image McKenzie doing that and she’s almost nineteen and we live in a small town! People are freaking crazy and I trust no one.
Our neighborhood was the same. There was a group of us that played all day, every day. When the street lights came on, you went home. If a parent yelled for one of you. You listened. Our neighborhood is called Spring Valley Estates. And, let me tell you. If a parent yelled, you could hear it through the valley. We rode bikes in the street, we roller skated, skate boarded, jogged with the neighbor and I am sure we all slowed her down. Jumping on the trampoline at the neighbor’s house where I saw Julie and Barry the day we looked at our house.
We had a little girl club that dues were 5 cents and we buried our little sandwich baggie with nickels in the neighbor’s landscaping gravel. The same neighbor had the best football “stadium”. Their yard is rounded like a stadium and we would sit at the top and watch the game and cheer from the sidelines. We also played football between two houses – I was the only girl that would play and got my hip knocked out of place and ended up having to go to the chiropractor -that was 7th grade – what the heck was I thinking??
A movie theater was built below our neighborhood and we would go to matinees. We took two quarters. One to call when we got there and one to call when we were headed back up the hill.
Trick or Treat nights were the best!! Everyone came to our neighborhood to trick or treat. At the top of the hill lived a dentist and he always gave out toothbrushes. Our moms would always say – did you go get a toothbrush? LOL!!! We were never allowed to eat even one piece until our Dad checked our candy.
Bergdolls’ always had the best parties. We were never allowed to go – adults only. You could hear the music play throughout the valley. It wasn’t too loud at all – we just had the best acoustics. I remember sitting in my room with the windows open listening to the music and laughter thinking – I can’t wait until I can go. By the time I was “old enough” to go, sadly our Bergdolls moved. Living in a small town you still see the greats and I was ever so blessed to see my Jan Bergdoll. This woman is one of the most amazing people you will ever meet in your life. Selfless. Flawless. Strength. Kindness. No Bullshit. What you see is exactly what you get!
While at the FAC, my superintendent texted me. He was spending time with another neighborhood icon that is moving this weekend to Kentucky. She is 100!!! Mind you, he is new to the area and is currently living next to this woman. Isn’t it amazing how life follows you around?!!
My group all turned 50 last year and of course there were multiple parties to attend for us. Last Fall, we celebrated Julie and while there we captured this photo of a few of us Spring Valley Kids.
My goodness, I could write and write and write about our childhood playing together. Do kids even play these days? Have their bare feet ever touched grass? Drank out of a water hose? Stayed out from sun up to street lights? Caught lightning bugs? Riding bikes up and down hills that would make most kids fall over these days. Played with yard toys that have now been banned? That makes me chuckle. Jarts – anyone have those? Reenacted movies and tv shows for fun? Actually TALK to one another? NO texts, snapchat or any social media? We grew up in the greatest time and sure which my daughter had these lifelong memories to share someday.
I will end this with many wonderful memories swirling around in my head and will leave you with these photos of me and my little brother at The 287. I would love to hear some of your childhood neighborhood stories too! I’m sure they aren’t much different than mine!