Growing up I remember how wonderful our neighborhood was. Great memories of living there on Elmite Street.
Yes, that was the name of our street. E…L…M…I..T..E. Where did they ever come up with that name. Why not just Elm Street? I guess someone thought it would be creative to blend together the word “elm” with “termite”….?
All in all it was the name I will never forget, all the memories that come with it are worthy to share with you. Just not sure where I will end, there are so many important life-shaping moments.
The 60s were wonderful years. Kids grew up differently then. No electronics to rob them of precious time in their young growing years. These are years where all can absorb important values and manners. No brain cells should be wasted!
We chose to be outside all the time. My parents had to put stiff punishments on us if we were not home by dusk. We would be grounded. "Be home by dusk!" they would say. Dusk is such a hard to measure time of day. Is it when the sun is setting? When the birds stop singing? When the house lights come on? Don't know to this day! So we stretched it out as long as we could.
At a corner empty lot right next to the town hall offices at the end of our block we would play softball. Girls with the guys were welcome, and all ages together. I could hit that ball just as far as the guys could! But, my running was not the fastest. These were the times I stayed out to the last minute of dusk. We just needed one more hit to win!
At sun up the very next morning our friends, the Watson kids, would be calling our names at the front door. We were all ready to do it again. Summers were the best!
Being grounded was a painful thing for kids who lived to play outside each day. Today that would not be much of a punishment, unless of course you removed all the electronics! Hehehehehehe! Enough already on electronics replacing good old fashioned fun. I’m not going to harp on it. But it sure does bother me to think kids today are missing out on so very
Our neighborhood was the best. Yes, the very best. Nice, kind, safe people resided there. Eighteen years I was there until I left home to get married. If I remember right, our house was one of the first on the street. A modest ranch home with a huge yard and a big cottonwood tree that my two sisters and I would hold hands around and sing “Ring Around The Rosy”.
Gradually new homes were built in the fields around us where my father would point out Ring Tailed Pheasants nesting in the tall grasses. Walking thru these fields I was often startled when a pheasant took flight. And, sometimes, Dad would whistle and mimic the call of the Bob White. If you listened carefully it would seem to call back to him.
Living in Michigan was amazing. Each season had it’s own special things to enjoy.
Spring was rainy and chilly, with teasing moments of warmth with sunshine and blue skies . Sometimes even a surprisingly late snow would greet us in the morning while we waited for the bus to come down the muddy road. I especially liked to pull up flattened maple leaves from the dirt road revealing their lacy impression in the mud. Seems silly, but, it entertained me for the longest time, there is where I began to see things as art. Shortly, thereafter, we would hear the frogs and toads singing their mating song in the evening. It was so peaceful there. Soon would be hunts for polly-wogs in the ditches.
You would not be allowed to play in a ditch today. Parents would not have it. But, then, there was so much to explore. Frogs, gardener snakes, dragonflies…………………you could even float a plastic boat!
We could walk to a friend’s home in the dark. All was safe. Parents were not just neighbors to each other, they became friends. There were yearly corn roasts where all came together for a social evening, lots of good food, and the best roasted corn with dripping butter and salt. Kids ran around together playing tag and sitting around a campfire till way past our bedtimes.
That same annual corn roast still goes on to this day. Alumni from the old days attend to catch up on their lives after “Elmite Street”. We all realize we should never have left there. That was and still is home.
We would stay up long after dark in the summer and chase fireflies in the back yard. The young boys in the neighborhood, planning a fishing trip in the morning, would hunt night crawlers in our yard. My father would spray down the lawn with the hose and the fat bellied crawlers would crawl out in the dark on top of the thick grass. You had to be fast to grab them and pull them out of their getaway hole. I was really good at this. Yes, I was a tomboy!
Sometimes mom would let us use the clothesline to make tents to play in. She would hang two old sheets or blankets up on the same line together and then we would pound clothespins into the ground at each loose corner. The best blanket was then spread on the ground underneath. She would bring Kool-Aid out to us there. And books to read.
All the kids in the neighborhood would gather at our house. Mom always had lunch for everyone. P&J and cut up apples or bananas. One time she allowed us to take her clothes drying rack out onto the front porch. We brought out all of our storybooks and rested them shelf like on the rungs. This was our library. It got attention from everyone on the block. We spent an entire week reading together on the front porch.
When it began to get cold outside in the fall my mom’s best friend, one of the neighbors she met when they built a home down the street, would come over in her long fake fur coat. My little sister loved that coat. She would cuddle underneath it and play peek-a-boo. They often then would put on a cup of coffee and we were invited to sit and talk with them. Conversations were about nice things...... cooking, house keeping, children, school, sewing. Never about politics. Never gossip.
The finest coffee was always brewing at our home. Served in miss-matched mugs, always piping hot. The scent alone would grab you and pull you to our home like a lost kitten. It was a welcoming sign to all the neighbors that would come to visit. Mom always had a plate of home made cookie to go with it, too.
When a child skinned their knee or a chain came off of a bike, there was always a smiling attentive neighbor to help make things better. If your lawnmower took a dive, a neighbor would come by and cut your lawn for you, at no cost, just because you were his neighbor, his friend. There was a connection there, we were all family.
When there was extra in the garden, it was happily passed around to anyone that could use the excess. Big beefsteak tomatoes and zucchini the size of an elephant trunks!
I learned the most about a garden from the neighbor across the street, Mr. Totten, he had a couple of acres that was meticulously organized into a huge garden. Fruit trees and grapevines, too. I believe that he was a retired school principal. The deal with me was this, if I helped him to weed and hoe his garden, I could sell the excess and keep half the money. I worked very hard everyday for a few hours in that garden. Then I would go door to door with my little red wagon and sell out every single time. Freshly picked sweet corn was the big seller! I still enjoy gardening to this day. He was quite a teacher.
I’ll never forget all those happy moments in that small Michigan neighborhood. I wish that the children of today are enjoying some of those welcoming moments that a healthy neighborhood can give. Those are valuable learning times with memories that affect young lives by the teaching, caring, supporting and sharing.
I could go on, and on, and on........ More memories are coming back while reminiscing to write this post, with a never ending supply of heartfelt stories of life growing up there.
Elmite Street made a large imprint on my life and my two sisters. Mom and Dad sure did pick the perfect place to raise three little girls. That loving neighborhood had a large part in making us the women that we are today. I am proud to be part of that 60s neighborhood!
(That is me, on the left, the BIG sister.)
Did you have a neighborhood that was like this? Share some of your memories. I look forward to hearing your stories.
God Bless, Pamela
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