Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer fun

So, here it is summer of 1956 or 57 I think. My dear, generous SBrother #1
had just received or bought himself (?) a plastic rocket on a big rubber band, and he let me play with it-really, I didn't sneak it.

We don't have a lot of pictures when we were kids, I wonder if many from this era did? I had red plaid shorts, saddle shoes and a smile that celebrated the special use of this toy.

We were living in the Kenfield Projects. The back of this post card picture states that it is "the first housing development operated by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority located in a pleasant, residential section of the northeast part of the City. Adjacent to Kensington High School, it is convenient to elementary schools, churches and the Bailey-Kensington shopping center. The 46-acre site contains two-story row-houses and three-story apartment buildings. Units range in size from one to three bedrooms."

On the right of the picture is our yard-of course it seemed much larger then. I can remember our yard was shared by the next door neighbors-the Probst family. We had a fancy yard because we had flowers bordering the one area, and out of view we had a small peach tree near the backdoor that produced hard-as-a-rock little green ovals-that of course we tried to eat. Did we also have a struggling Lilac bush? Or just wanted one-can't remember.

We lived in a three bedroom apartment-and because we had a basement-we were much better off than those living in the Langfield apartments. Hoity-toity has many layers.

Five kids, one parent, three bedrooms, SGrandma Viviani for a few years, relatives visiting from out of town occasionally. SUncle Jack stayed for a time while looking for a job before moving SAunt Rosie and SCousin Susie up to the big city. For a short time, this same family lived with us while their house was being finished-we actually tied two bunk beds together to make room for more to sleep.

Tad crowded-but we didn't know any different, most of our friends were in the same situation. It is amazing how many people fit into that kitchen when SM and SGV made holiday and special occasion dinners. I remember when the project management painted- we had a choice of tan or green and one time SM painted the kitchen YELLOW on her own. I always thought that yellow was a great kitchen color after that.

When we went to school-P.S. #82 (Easton, Weston, all around town, 82 is the best school around!!!), the school population consisted of the "project kids" (and here we were lumped were those poor kids in the Langfield projects-much to our chagrin), and the regular kids who lived in their own homes. It made a difference, but was manageable. When we went to High School (4 of us went to Kensington and SB#1 very smartly went to Burgard Technical School-he always had a plan) the socio-economic difference was very apparent.

The garbage cans were mostly red-rust and white from gas stations-they originally had grease or oil for the cars I think. I can remember some had the flying phoenix looking bird stenciled on them-would that be from the Texaco company? Who knows.

The metal pole at the end of every walkway was put to use when stringing clotheslines. What was a dryer? We had a ringer washer for many years. And catching fingers in the rollers was not pleasant.

Behind me in the picture, also on the right, you can see an asphalt space-that is where we would wash SMom's car sometimes on Sundays, and then she would take us to the Hess and Bement Ice Cream store on Harlem Road for an ice cream cone. Just past that space there is a wood trimmed triangular area barely visible-that is one of the areas that when the older kids like my SBrothers and SSisters would be "home" in the game "Ravioli". I think it was really called Revelers or something like that-but basically just tag played in the dark-you needed to tag home before being tagged by whomever was stuck with being "it". I remember a big mess one night when SSister #2 tore a boy's shirt during a tag process. In those days we did not have a lot of clothes and this was a big deal. This is the same SS who used steel-toed shoes for kickball-making that ball fly!

I just noticed in the picture that a neighbor across the "court" had awnings above their doors. We did not have one. Those I think were the rich neighbors-the Busch family-he of the world famous 4th of July productions. And those red and white metal oil cans were used by the teen boys to throw a firecracker into-sounded like a bomb. Great competition for Mr. Bush.

In the first court we used to play games called "Red Light:, Hopscotch, and Categories (chalk drawn grid with topics which you need to name as you jumped after you threw your rock or bottle cap-like "Boys Names, Fruits, etc").

We played 7-up against the brick wall outside our kitchen door with a tennis ball-clapping your hands up to seven times before you caught the ball thrown at the wall. Their were many variations of this-you could let it bounce, or spin around before catching. Amazing what you can have fun with before the electronic and TV age. We would make doll clothes for my little bride doll out of scraps of material. I so sucked at that!

I can remember our first TV-a huge cabinet and a small screen-but a TV, in OUR living room.

We had good friends, good times, and that is what I now choose to remember.

No one has a perfect childhood, ours maybe had some times that were very bad, but compared to others.....

We survived, and now we are what our experiences have made us: All survivors. Tomorrow we will have a picnic with four generations-grateful that SM is well enough to attend-with her purple walker and her great love of all the Generation 4 kids that she can't wait to see.

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