Friendly Confines

The nice thing regarding youth is you can build on it, expand from the start of it. During the 1960s in Elmhurst, Il, this was nicely controlled expansion. It may be no coincidence that nicely controlled expansion described our neighborhood, too.

A reasonable number of streets were laid in a grid and each house had about the same space to sit on.  Elm trees planted when each was about the same age seemed so happy to be there they grew fast to reach over the street to shake each other’s branched hands. Lots of our streets looked like green cathedrals.

Being little was not a problem like it might be in a more advanced neighborhood. Curbs were short and smooth and made good benches. Traffic was something that whizzed elsewhere. Youth could play baseball at 4-corner intersections or chinese jump rope in the middle of any street.

This last example is significant. Chinese jump rope requires two people holding a rope made of rubber bands around their ankles so a third person can do fancy footwork with it. Such a significant infrastructure can’t be dismantled just because a car wished to pass.

It was nice but not perfect. Youth needs other youth to build on. More advanced neighborhoods probably offered a variety of playmates. This wasn’t the case where we lived.

One girl my age lived near enough we could play after dinner before dark without being out of sight of our houses. One girl lived near enough to see after school without getting home  late for supper. One girl was a sleepover friend. Visiting required a car ride so planning was required and we might as well make it worthwhile by spending the night.

My three friends gave my youth something to build on. Patty was tiny with shiny black hair. From her I understood I was tall-ish and would never have shiny black hair. Patsy was smart and wore glasses. From her I understood being smart and wearing glasses went together. Alicia was a wonder of emotion. She could become laughy or tearful or hopping mad over just about anything, even peanut butter. She liked peanut butter quite a bit. From her I understood I had alot to build upon.

About Mrs. Fitz

Hello! I'm Michele Fitzpatrick, a Chicago writer. Like our town, a work in progress. As a journalist, teacher and writing coach I think all of us live our stories and sharing them creates moments that remind us we're connected. And that is enough.
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