Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Walk

[memories evoked by the Sunday Scribblings prompt, "walk."]

The summer I turned 5 years old, my parents and I started something new. A few times a week, and then every day toward the end of the summer, we started walking a particular route.

We went to the corner of our yard and walked past the hedge of our across-the-street neighbor, down Burtschi Street for one block. On the way, we passed a large empty lot on the left. At the end of the block we crossed the street, turned left and crossed again, and walked one more short, small-town block. The end of that block was always darker because there were evergreen trees there and they were quite dense.

At the corner we could see the nursing home (known then as the Hospital Annex") across the street. We turned right and went just a half-block down 8th Street. We looked very, very carefully for cars were on 8th Street. There was a stop sign for those coming from the south, but not from the north. When it was safe to cross, we did.

We walked for two blocks, passing several landmarks. First was the nursing home where Mrs. X lived. I can't remember her name today, but she made the most beautiful, elaborate dresses for dolls. They started out as Barbie dolls, or generic Barbie-type dolls. But they ended up with dresses two feet wide, with lace and sequins, and they always had a hat to match. (I eventually ended up with two of them, one to sit on each of the twin beds in my bedroom - but that was a few years later.)

Right after the nursing home was the two-story house of Mrs. Elizabeth. She had a doll collection that was HUGE. She had hundreds of dolls, and when she put them out in her house to show them off, my mom sometimes took me for a visit. I'm told that Mrs. Elizabeth also made great brownies, cakey with frosting.

Around then the sidewalk took a little more attention because the roots of the large trees on the sides of the road had pushed up the concrete in several places. In the second block, was a house, then a little, tiny store with a tiny parking lot, then another house.

Finally, we again carefully looked for traffic (on 6th Street this time), then crossed the street and turned right. We walked along the front of Lincoln School, down to the far corner where the kindergarten entrance was.

Then we turned around and went home the same way.

By the end of the summer, I was leading the way, and my parents were comfortable that I would be careful and not stray from the designated path.

The first few days, I think my parents (or at least Mom) walked me to school, but I don't remember. I do know that by the second week I was on my own. I was in the morning kindergarten class so I walked to school in the morning and I walked home at lunchtime.

Now just down the street from our house, lived a family with three boys. The middle boy was in my class, and his older brother was a couple of years ahead of us. The younger brother was the same age as my little brother, and so was not in school yet.

I don't remember what I'm about to relate, but this is the story I'm told:

One day the older brother was heading home for lunch and noticed me starting to walk home. He decided that I was too little to be walking by myself. I don't know why he wasn't worried about his little brother, just about me. At any rate, I didn't mind if he walked with me, but we had to go home the way I was supposed to go. When we got to my house, he came to the door with me and told my mom that he thought I was too little to do that myself. I don't know what Mom told him, but I guess it relieved his worries, because I don't think he walked me home again.

I went to Lincoln School for 6 years (kindergarten through 5th grade) and I walked that same route to and from school all that time.


Jo said...

A lovely memory......great that your parents encouraged you to be so independent.

Linda said...

Wow, this brought me right back to grammar school. I also had to walk to and from. Nowadays, we'd be reported to Health and Human Services! But, in those days, we all walked and stayed fit and learned to navigate safely through life! Thanks for this walk down memory lane!

Redness said...

Gorgeous reminder of how kids used to be safe on the street and neighbours, no matter their age, cared ... love this walk down memory lane, Thank YOU!

paisley said...

very clever parents yours,, to create such a fun game out of walking to school... very lovely memory as well....

sister AE said...

Thanks, all. I hadn't walked down that memory in a long time and I'm glad I did.

The Alchemist said...

Thanks for the memories, most of the children in my day walked to school by themselves or with friends they picked up along the way. I had a dog that used to walk with me every day go home and seem to know when it was time to pick me up, because he would meet me a the edge of the school ground.

Writer bug said...

LOL--I love that your neighbor was so concerned!

Rob Kistner said...

What a wonderfully engaging memory hared here! ;)

tumblewords said...

How nice! This story is surely a thing of the past! Kids don't walk anymore - I live near an elementary school and cars full of kids fill the air with fumes but rarely does a child walk by. Good post!

UL said...

Ah reminded me of my own school days, we walked mostly, my little bro and sis to accompany me - I was the eldest you see. Thank you.


gautami tripathy said...

My lil brother and I used to walk together to school. He used to throw down his books and I had to carry those.

Now if we both go out together, I make him carry my stuff!


sister AE said...

I'm so glad you all enjoyed this walk with me.

And, Gautami, that's great - "turn about is fair play" yes?