Sunday, March 20, 2016

REMINISCING: Who Remembers Mott's Field?

Reminiscing” will be a weekly column that appears on Sundays. It’s not about the history of Lockport and the surrounding area. It’s mostly about thinking back to those days of youth when things seemed so much different than today. Please feel free to comment and add your own stories to the narrative.

I know that I’m not that old, but in the last three-plus decades, there have been many changes in and around Lockport that I thought we could talk about. Sure, I’m only 42, but some of these stories could be pretty interesting. So, stay tuned for this weekly series that will maybe stir some of your own memories.

I grew up in the East End, on Walnut Street. When we first moved to Lockport in 1979, there used to be a blinking light at the intersection of Walnut and Davison. There also used to be a huge tree right at the end of Walnut. There were several times that someone missed the light, or later the stop sign, and hit that tree. The county finally cut the tree down just a handful of years ago.

The old neighborhood, which is still the neighborhood.
I can just barely remember there being a store at the end of the Spalding Hardware store. I think it was Kenneth’s Grocery, but closed very soon after we moved in down the street. We loved the hardware store. It was a treat if we got sent down there to grab something small for some project someone was working on. Even today, kids love going there. It may be for the free popcorn, though.

One of the greatest highlights as a kid was the carnival that took place on DeSales Field. Long before there was a housing development, it was a football field for the DeSales Knights. Every summer, the carnival would pull into town and set up camp between the field goal uprights. From my parent’s back porch, those lights twinkled and beckoned to all the youth of the area. Once I was big enough, I would ride the Gravitron over and over until I couldn’t ride it anymore. Then I would shoot darts for posters. I had a lot of posters of scantily clad women on my walls; something I probably shouldn’t have had.

Part of Mott's Field, prepared for a garden
Does anyone reading this know where Mott’s Field is? Even 30-some years later, we still call it Mott’s Field. Anyone driving down the street would never guess there was a big field behind the houses on the south side of the street. That was our favorite gathering spot. It even had a light, which we could turn on and off. Of course, if we forgot to turn it off, we’d get yelled at. I remember one of the neighbors shimmying up that pole at least once. It could have been to help change a bulb, or more likely, he did it just to show off.

We played endless football games on that field.We would run back and forth, scoring and defending. It was a meeting place every day after school. Once I finished delivering my papers, I met up with my friends and the rest of the afternoon was busy until dinner time.

If we got bored with sports, the woods along the south side of the property soon was full of us running through narrow paths and climbing trees. The creek that flowed through there was a favorite spot. There were several times that the kiddie pool in my backyard became a breeding pool for the tadpoles that we brought home. Other times, our interaction with the waterway caused some slight flooding. Building bridges with anything we could find became a pastime. Sometimes, those bridges caused the water to stop flowing and instead flood behind what essentially became a dam.

Our playground --the creek.
We had forts in the woods. Despite our best efforts, they never really amounted to much, but we sure had a lot of fun trying. One of the houses farther down the creek had a junkyard in the back of their yard, along the creek. We would drag cinder blocks all the way back to the pine woods at our end. Wood and other building materials made their way back, too.

These were the days before video games. Sure, we had them, but they were for rainy days, not for everyday usage. It was a special treat to play those games. Instead, we spent almost all our days running the neighborhood, playing football, basketball, riding bikes, or exploring the world around us. And we always knew when it was time to head home. We’d hear Mr. Broecker’s whistle and run back to our respective houses.

It was the 1980s, and it was a great time to grow up in Lockport. There are many more stories that I can tell. Stay tuned each Sunday for more stories about growing up in Lockport. I have some great ones to tell, and some I probably shouldn’t tell. As always, please feel free to add some of your own stories.

Next Week: I went to Washington Hunt

Craig Bacon loves Lockport and the fact he grew up here. Follow his continuing exploits on Twitter at @hippieboy73.