Remember, Part 2

Remember back when we could play outside morning till night? My favorite childhood years were the four years I lived on a street where nearly every house had a least one child. I was nine years old when we moved there, and I had about 15 friends within two years of my age.

One summer, the day began at around 7AM, when my friend Barbara came over and we had fried bologna sandwiches for breakfast. You remember, a slice of bologna with a hump in the middle from the frying, grease seeping into the soft white bread you could smoosh up into a pea-sized ball to use for bait (except for when you needed it flat for a sandwich).

And then we’d head outdoors for the rest of the day, joining the others in the game of the moment. Sometimes it was jacks, sometimes four-square, sometimes dodge ball or keep- away. I was a major tomboy and I liked to play Cowboys and Indians because I always got to play an Indian with the boys. They let me play because I could shoot my imaginary bow and arrow straighter than any of them.

But my favorite time was the evening. It started at dusk with an important ritual. Every night, as we all sat with our families at the dinner table, the street lights would come on. With some innate sixth sense given only to kids, we all knew just when those lights came on. A minute or two before, kids would jump up from the table, saying “I’ll be right back!” and run outside. Up and down the street, you’d hear the screen doors slam: Slap! Slap! Slap! We’d all run and put our hand on the nearest light pole so we were touching it when the light came on. (This was important, because if you weren’t touching the pole when the light came on, you were a monkey’s uncle.) Then “see you later,” and we went back in to finish dinner.

After drying the dishes, we were back out, playing hide and seek in the shadows, or just laying on the warm sidewalk, looking up at the stars and sharing secrets. And if one happened to have a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend,” there might be someone to hold your hand.

Television? We didn’t need no stinkin’ television.

You remember.

Epilogue: I went back to that old neighborhood 30 years later. I found my initials still there, carved into the street light pole nearest my house.


  1. I was a tomboy too. Had only brothers and loved to ride my bike, skate, jump rope, play ball. We didn't have a TV until I was 10 so we just played. I loved your night light ritual! We didn't do that but we left the house in the morning and played with friends all day. My favorite place to live was a new housing project for 6 years with scads of kids! And I certainly do remember fried bologna sandwiches! How about fried spam ones?

  2. I went home again last January. I went to a lake where I spent my summers and boys used to hold my hand. I never miss TV, but I miss home. This reminded me. Lovely write, Patti.

  3. I think you're right. We ARE twins separated at birth.

  4. p.s. - Now that you've had "Nobody's Home" for a while, what kind of reactions have you had to it?

  5. oh i loved playing hide and seek at night. having a graveyard just down the hill mad it extra creepy too. love this...now can i have a fried blogna sandwich? smiles.

  6. Oh man! Fried bolgna sandwiches! Haven't done that in a while, heh...

    And you're right; we didn't need th' telly ;)


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