August 26, 2010

Writer's Workshop: My Childhood Neighborhood

The first 12 years of my life was spent inside the same 3 bedroom, 1 bath brick bungalow home in a nearby suburb of Chicago. We lived on a one way street going North, just two blocks away from a very busy street (and two blocks west of another one). Every house on the block pretty much looked the same – most were all brick with big open front porches and the same amount of grass in the front outlined by the cement walkway up to the house, in front of the house, and going to the back of the house (otherwise known as “the gangway”).

sorta what it looked like-  only the houses were farther back
this was what the porch sorta looked like

We lived about five houses in from the corner house where six kids or so lived with a lot of freedom. They cussed loud and played harder. Our neighbors directly to the left of us, Mr. and Mrs. B (as we called them) were awesome. They had a boy, Scotty, who was younger than my sister (I’m the youngest, she’s 7 years older) yet older than my brother (he’s 3 years older). They always let us come over and Mrs. B always had regular sized candy bars she’d give us: $100,000 bar specifically comes to mind! The folks to the right of us were old. And their porches were covered in green felt and their lawn was always so perfectly manicured.

I guess it was a kid-friendly neighborhood for the most part.

I remember getting diarrhea (ah the things you remember eh) while playing with a friend of mine down the block and to the right of us. I’ll never forget it because my parents left my sister in charge of me and I was supposed to be home but was instead playing with this friend and eating a bunch of shit and then paying for it. I remember I was pooping my brains out in the bathroom and she came up to the door and was all, “Hey I got a funny thing to share: 'Diarrhea, ugh ugh. Diarrhea, ugh ugh. Some people say it’s funny but it’s really green and runny.'” I begged her to stop singing the song as I was sure it was making matters worse for me. I was sure I was dying and begged her to get my sister. By the time my sister came, I was finally done shitting and she, my sister, made fun of me all the way home and then some. God my sister hated me so.

Across the street and to the right a bit was another friend of mine. I think she was a year older than me and she had two younger brothers. I don’t recall exactly but I think her name may have been Jennifer. I do remember that she went to public school while I went to Catholic and I was always so envious of all the different clothes she got to wear while I was always stuck in the same ugly plaid uniform. Hers was actually the first sleepover birthday party I ever attended, and the first time I remember staying up all night long. She shared my love of junk food and we’d ride our bikes to the corner store and buy Tostitos (they had just come out and were a huge hit) and Pepsi and chow down.

Rex and Timmy were two brothers that lived in the house across the alley from us. Their names can never be forgotten because they were two brothers very close in age that were constantly getting into trouble and staying out later than they were supposed to, and their names being screamed out could be heard most summertime evenings. Rex’s name was always called first, followed by Timmy’s. I wasn’t really allowed to play with them much because they swore a lot and were pretty wild.

The block north of us contained homes of other friends, the Dotson’s (fake name just in case). They had a girl, Velvet, and two boys whose names I don’t recall. I would play with Velvet a lot and she was actually my brother’s first girlfriend. I believe they went out for ice cream or something. I’ll never forget the Dotson’s because their parents were very strict and would beat them… sometimes with us in the house!! I don’t recall any beatings done in front of us, but I can recall a time when Velvet was summoned to get her dad’s belt (!!!) and go into the other room. Awkward much?

The fondest thing I remember about the neighborhood was the summer we all (the kids) got together to have a neighborhood water balloon fight. There were kids of all ages running around screaming in hysterics while others were more Ninja-like. There were small water balloons and HUGE ones. It was a pretty crazy day and since I was a little badass tomboy, I taunted my neighbor Scotty to try getting me with one of HUGE water balloons (I’m talking huge – like a basketball… could only carry one at a time and had to hold it and toss it with two hands!). He waited until he was in our backyard and had enough of my antics. I started running through the gangway toward the front of the house to get away but wasn’t as badass or fast as I thought. The water balloon got me so hard that it knocked me down and onto my knees. I swear my little 10 year old body skidded on the cement. I still have the scar today. It’s about the size of a quarter.

Ah, memories. : )

The timing of this is pretty ironic as we move tomorrow and the husband was just commenting how it was kind of sad to be leaving the home we brought Lovie into when she was just days old. It’s not like she would remember it though so it’s all good. Someday my Lovie may reflect on her childhood neighborhood though, and I can’t help but wonder what she’ll remember… I pray they will be good memories and that some will include her old mom and pops.



  1. Please tell me Velvet is a name changed to protect the innocent!

    Good luck with the move!!

  2. I know what you mean about the house you brought your baby home to. We are living in a house that is totally wrong for us and bursting at the seams but I am so attached to the fact that we brought our babies home here!

  3. Enjoyed reading!

    I am your newest follower
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Glad to have found you through Mamakat's writing workshop. I love your tongue-in-cheek humor. The runny story and the pictures you posted of similar homes in you Chicago neighborhood brought it home for me. Plus, you daughter is adorable.Thank you for sharing a part of your childhood story.
    I stopped by from MamaKat's Writing Workshop; I wrote on Unconditional Love and could use some feedback. Thank you!
    Have a great weekend!

  5. Sorry about the constant use of "you" when I mean to type "your." My laptop is to blame not my aging eyesight. :-)


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