As a kid, in the forties, you looked out the window, and if you saw kids playing in the street, you ran out to join them. You were not allowed to knock on a door or ring a doorbell, and you certainly were not allowed to call a friend , even if your family had a phone. If you wanted to summon a friend, you stood at the foot of the stairs leading to their back door and called for them , almost musically. I can still hear the welcome shouts of “”Hi, oh, Dor-a-thy- ee.”
For play after school, girls were allowed to wear pants but even then, though, no jeans or sneakers. I think we just wore a pair of older shoes. Most days we ran home from school, went in to change clothes and ran back out to play. Parents called us in for supper, but as quickly as possible we were outside again, and we played outside until nightfall. My best friend , Mary Ellen, was usually the first to be called home. Her father, a stocky man with a perpetual cigar, would stand on the porch at the top of their back stairs and shout down the street, “Mary Ellen, Cath -a – leen (sic) and Claire.” Each girl was to answer immediately, “Coming, Daddy, ” and race home. There was one problem: Cathleen and I both had blonde hair and often wore red sweaters, so sometimes Mr. C would mistakenly yell at me to get moving, and, boy, was I scared of him!
We were a neighborhood of mostly girls, but now and then a boy joined us. We played jump rope, tag, Polly, Mother May I, Red Light; Green Light, and hide and seek. Our call to let players know to come in when playing hide and seek was “Ollie, Ollie in come free.” People tell me I must have remembered this incorrectly, but I swear that was it. I usually avoided playing “Red Rover” because I thought it was too rough.
Our neighborhood was very hilly, so no girl had a bike, nor did I ever learn to ride one. Many years later I visited Nantucket where everyone rides a bike, and in order to accompany friends to a certain beach, I rented an adult three wheeler which was so heavy and hard to ride, I barely made it there and back.
We did roller skate , but we walked up a hill to a flat street. Amazingly I was good at roller skating although I frequently sang hymns to myself in the hope that would keep me from falling. I say amazingly because I almost always had scraped knees and elbows from falling when running!
How is it that I don’t recall that it ever rained? Because course it did. But in my memory of those days, the sun is always shining.
Dorothy C. Judd © 2016