Where Do the Children Play?

A secret writer from a pragmatic blue-collar neighborhood, Marie White Small brings her skills as a florist, waitress, antiquarian bookseller, bookbinder, cook, and pie-baker to the page.

shutterstock_27891556When I was a kid, I grew up on a street lined with cookie box post-World War II Cape Cod style houses, painted in pastel colors—a bit like sneakers and a prom dress as far as paint colors. But what did we care? We were raucous kids screeching through the backyards lined up, one against the other. The land had been clear-cut prior to construction. No one on the street put up fences or hedgerows to separate one plot of land from another, and as a result, everyone’s backyard became part of one long grassy playground without boundaries. We ran wild, and mostly our parents did not interfere with our fun; they were too busy taking care of the sixty plus kids that poured out of those sixteen houses. And . . . there were two additional streets of similar small boxy houses, beyond our backyards, also filled with boomer babies.

Our street ended in a cul-de-sac, with an embankment below, and hundreds of acres toddler with a tricyclebeyond filled with woodlands, ponds, logging trails, rock cliffs and caves. When we weren’t exploring the woods we were racing up and down the street on bicycles, tricycles, and in wagons; it’s a wonder any cars made it up and down those streets.

In good weather, after school, on weekends and school vacations, we were outside, save for rain and snowstorms, but once those cleared, it was back out the door, playing under the sprinkler on hot days, and building snow forts in winter. We were, for the most part, unsupervised. As long as we were on the street, everything was fine. In my house with three more siblings, we had to tell our mother if we were going to the park a couple blocks away, or to the store, or off into the woods. She kept