When I was growing up, I lived in a child’s dreamland on a little street called Eaton Place. The neighbourhood was built after World War ll in the early 1950s and was home to low income, hard working families. Most of the Dads were war veterans and most of the Moms stayed at home and raised the children. There were hundreds of kids in our neighbourhood.
All the backyards were unfenced in those days so we had one huge yard to play in – tag, kick-the-can, football, or baseball in the summer and sledding, ice skating, or building snow forts in the winter. My Dad built us a brick patio to dance on when we brought our record player outside on the back porch during the summertime.
In the winter, Dad made a skating rink on the empty lot beside our house and Mom would take the garden hose and water the hill out back for sledding after she flooded the rink. The whole neighbourhood would come over to our place after school and on weekends to skate or slide all winter long!
After our gravel road was paved in the late 1950s, we skipped with our skipping ropes, playing ‘double-dutch’ while singing songs. We were NEVER indoors unless we were eating or getting ready for bed or watching Hockey Night in Canada.
I remember back in the day, that the ‘ice man’ would come around selling ice for people’s iceboxes (pre-refrigerators). There was the ‘milkman’ who left full quart bottles of fresh milk right on your front porch and exchanged the empty bottles – there was never any concern that the milk would go bad because there was always someone home to bring it in the house. The ‘bread man’ came to the door every day with a heavy wire basket full of goodies and bread – our Mom simply had to pick whatever she wanted. Every Saturday morning, I would go with my Dad to the Loblaws grocery store and sit on the 10 cent horse ride dreaming I was on a real horse.
We like to play in the nearby ‘field’ which was an undeveloped area of bushes, trees, grass, and hills which afforded tons of fun and imagination. When I was a bit older, I was allowed to go to ‘the creek’ which was a small river, the Red Hill Creek, with high banks that cut through the edge of the neighbourhood. I remember tobogganing down a steep hill there once and hurt my ankle when I crashed into a tree so my sister Faye had to pull me all the way home on the sled. I was always trying to climb trees too big to reach the bottom branches. The biggest ‘dare’ of all was to walk along ‘the cliff’ – I did once and I was scared to death.
My sister and I went back to the ol’ hood a few years ago – all the yards are fenced now and the homes are owned outright. The ‘field’ is now occupied by houses and the ‘creek’ has a highway running through it.
We made lifelong friends on that street. Those close ties cannot be broken by time. And the memories will last forever.