Monday, January 8, 2018

Reminiscing: In the Circle

I’ve written before how, as kids, we had Mott’s Field in which to play. Of course, all my Walnut Street friends will know exactly where that is. But that’s not the only place we played when we were younger. It wasn’t just the parks or the front yard of Washington Hunt. We had neighbor’s yards, friend’s basement, and pretty much anywhere that had enough space. Those of us at the eastern end of Walnut also had something that other neighborhoods did not have. We had Bob-O-Link.

Bob-O-Link Lane is directly behind the house on Walnut Street in which I grew up. The street ends in a cul de sac. That round, asphalt area became one of those play areas.  My friend, Erik lived back there, so it was a popular place for us. What could we play? There were plenty of opportunities for us.

One of the most popular games we played was baseball. For the purposes of our games, there were marks in the pavement that worked wonderfully as bases and pitcher’s mound. Since there were houses all around the circle, we were lucky that we were not the greatest baseball players. Thankfully, we never hit a house or broke a window.

The circle was perfect for playing street hockey, too. It’s not like we had to move the net every time a car came through. And we could play that in the winter, too. Actually, it was better in the winter when we were playing hockey. The snow banks around the perimeter of the curbing made for great backstops to keep the ball from going to far out of play. In this case, though, we may have hit a house. Or two. There were no broken windows, thankfully.

Call us crazy, but we also played football on the pavement. It was supposed to be touch football, but being invincible kids, we pushed the limits...and each other. There were scrapes, blood, and swearing. Still, we all kept coming back for more. We were kids. It was all about fun.

Erik had a basketball net on his garage and we’d play that regularly, too. Being the shortest guy in the group, I was not very good in actual basketball play. Instead, we ended up playing PIG. I wasn’t very good at that, either, but once in awhile one of us would sink an amazing shot. It was always cause for celebration. One time, another friend, Matt, nailed a great shot that we’d been trying for a very long time.

After Matt made the basket, he grabbed a can of white spray paint from Erik’s garage, painted a large “X” on the pavement at the end of the driveway, and wrote “RIGHT HERE” next to it. Of course, Erik’s dad was not happy...with me. Somehow, I always got the blame when something went wrong. Sometimes I deserved it. Anyway, that was just part of the fun. We all tried to get away with as much as we could.

We had this cool arena right in our own backyard. In combination with Mott’s Field, we had a couple of places to wreak havoc and play until we dropped. That’s what we did. When the street lights came on, we were supposed to head home, but we’d often push it until we heard a yell or heard a whistle. Then it was hightail it home. But the rest of the time, it was get in as much playing time as possible. We did a lot of sports. We weren’t great, but it was something to do that kept us out of the house. Staying home often meant doing chores. I’d rather be out with friends than cleaning my room.

Where we your favorite places to hangout when you were a kid? The east end of Walnut gave us many options. We had Mott’s Field, the woods, the creek, and Bob-O-Link Lane. We also had Washington Hunt’s playground and the Rogers Avenue playground. All those options gave us plenty of places to keep us busy. And it kept us out of our parents’ hair. I’d bet they were happy we were so busy with friends.

Craig Bacon is going to pull out his street hockey gear. Who’s up for a game?