Over the Independence Day celebration an old family friend and neighbor died. She and her husband were the last of the Italian couples that lived on the street I grew up on. My family had gotten together to sort through some of my Mom's things at her house that night. It so happened Josephine's family were all there with her because she had a change in her status that day. Luckily we just 'happened' to be across the street and were able to see her one last time.
At the funeral home and funeral we got to see many 'kids' and some of the parents who no longer live in the neighborhood. It was bitter sweet. Together we were all reminiscing yet saying goodbye to an era of a lifestyle we lived in. It was final.
We grew up on Orchard Ave. Within 5-10 min. of walking distance to downtown yet the neighborhood had everything a kid could want. We were truly lucky. That was said to me repeatedly those few days.
The street had many young couples with 3-5 kids about the same age range. The grade school sat at one end of the street and in the summer time the playground was in 'full swing'. A set of trained college kids ran each playground with crafts, games of skill, physical and mental; and a regular talent show with the band wagon equipped with a sound system. All the playground standards: the huge big kids swings we stood on to pump them as high as possible (trying to 'go over the top'), the little 'baby' swings, the monkey bars, the sliding board, the merri-go-round (where we played 'dropped it: picked it up) and the sand box. We played Volleyball, badminton, kickball, the carom pool table that fit perfectly over a 55 gal. drum, whiffleball and Basket ball. In the winter the firemen flooded the basketball court so we could play ice hockey..... We had a lot of flat surfaces to bicycle and some really steep hills to fly down. We 'hung out' on the wall in front of my house at the end of the block. All the parents, of all nationalities, watched out for all the kids. We had outside sleep-overs, neighborhood 'fire hall' street fairs with gambling for the adults, bingo for the moms and rides for the little ones. My favorite thing to do was run through the huge woods, quiet and cool yet so much fun. And when I was done I could sit in the crotch of the mulberry tree and eat all the reachable berries.
To get to the point share your memories with your past friends and families as well as those new members. Give them the good memories to continue passing them along. (ie. I bought my toddler grand-niece a pair of frog wellie boots and promptly taught her to splash in the little mud puddles!)
Most of the neighborhood parents and some of the 'kids' are now Resting In Pennsylvania and in all of our thoughts and memories.