Over the past several years, I received numerous requests to post photo’s of where I grew up. The pictures below are from my old neighborhood, the school yard, the birth of the Dare Devil’s Club, many a fires, explosions, and other riotously funny antics. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and the lay of the land has changed over the past 40 years, but the key elements are still there. Enjoy the pictures. Make sure to click the thumb nail for a much larger picture.
The school yard. The old neighborhood. This is the drive way that led to the school. Plenty of black top for skate boards, bike riding, baskekball, tennis. This was a well traveled road as all the neighborhood kids knew this was the meeting place.
The hill. Way back when, the hill and the rest of the grass area was jungle like. Weeds and tree’s 8-10 feet high with brush enough to hide. We had at least several forts at any given time. A perfect setting for kick the can, capture the flag, and cowboys and indians.
The school yard. As you can see, the school yard was huge. It housed 5 full sized baseball fields, a football field, and plenty of open space. It was also advantageous when running from the police. We knew they wouldn’t chase us. All we had to do was run into the field. We never got caught.
This is the playground field right after it was cut by the tractor. It would only be cut several times a year. If you pile the dead dry grass into a huge pile, and light it on fire, airplanes can see it from the air. Not that I know this as first hand knowledge.
The black top walkway that went fence to playground. I used to ride my mini-bike like a bat out of hell down that path into the playground to let it wind out on a long straight away. I can still feel the wind in my hair. (Which wasn’t gray at that time contrary to popular belief)
This three sided enclosed porch was the place we we used to climb onto the roof. It was one of the easier access points to the roof. Once on the roof, there wasn’t much to really do but to climb higher onto the gym roof. But it was there, so we did it.
One of the ditches behind the school. We used to climb down the three ditches and then light Sound Colorful Birds and wait for them to fly. (Sound Colorful Birds were small projectile firework items.) They hurt when they hit you and there was no escape.
The second ditch. This one had a window and a gas or water pipe running through it. The pipe made this ditch the easiest to climb in and out of. We used to walk across the red pipe as a test. We were not allowed to use our hands to steady ourselves. We fell in a lot.
The third ditch. This ditch had a side wall and window ledge that we used to climb in and out of. It’s amazing that we never broke a single pane of glass while climbing in or out. We never knew what the ditches were actually used for. Still don’t to this day.
These steps lead to the basement of the school. There were about forty steps. We used to ride our bikes down them to see if we could hang on and get to the bottom. Sometimes we didn’t. And when we did, we would smash into the blue door at the bottom.
The back of the school showing the porch, the three ditches, and the basement steps. This was a well secluded area visible to very few. Only one access road that was off to the side. There was also a basketball court with a spotlight for night games.
Right up against the fence was where the Dare Devils Club apple tree stood. To be a member, you had to climb to the first branch, which was about 10 feet in the air, and jump. It was simple. Jump and you were in. Break a leg and you became the leader for the month.
The playground. These rides are more than 50 years old. We used to wax the sliding boards and watch unsuspecting kids smack their heads unprepared at the speed of the waxed up slide. You would actually hear the sound (Zing!) as the kids went down the slide.
Home Plate. There were 5 baseball fields complete with dirt infields and lined bases and several were always in use. I’m talking lined fields, clay infields, back stops, and a couple fields had home run fences. This beat up buried home plate is all that’s left.
Long range view of the playground. At any given summer day, there would be at least 10-15 kids doing something at the playground. usually we were up to no good, but we were there. Nowadays, the playground is almost always empty.
The jungle gym. I had a dream once that the devil was chasing me around the jungle gym. He never caught me thank God.
My best friend Mark’s old house. It’s the one with the American flag painted on the garage.
Another view of the garage. Rocketeers forever Mark.
Meadowbrook Avenue entrance. There were several entrances to the school. This one was from the back and not visible from the main highway, Market street. So of course it was the most used entrance when we were up to no good.
Full view of the back of the school. This is the view from Meadowbrook street. The back of the school. Out of sight from the neighbors and Market street.
Raised blocks we used to climb on and try to knock the other kids off. We had some strong hands back in those days. We could hang on for a long time.
The school side view from a distance. Market street, the main road is in the distance. When I was a young lad, the grass area was covered with a thick brush of weeds, tree’s, and jungle like greenery. Perfect for hiding.
The backside of the school. one complete lap was 3 tenths of a mile. We used to race our bikes around three times, or one mile. Sometimes we would have 30-40 bikes in the race. A lot of accidents on the corners, but that’s racing. Admit it, you only watch NASCAR to see the crashes.
The many hiding places for bike ditch. The school provided many nooks and crannies, (Just like an English muffin) to hide in. There were plenty around the school.
Another view of the school yard. Again, all the grass land was covered in weeds back in the day. A jungle in our own back yard.
The race track. We used this strech of black top for bike racing. We would start at the top and pedal our bikes for all we we worth. We had speedometers on our bikes back then, and we exceeded 40 miles per hour. That was cooking.
Kindergarten class. This was my Kindergarten class. Mrs. Fisher was my teacher. The next year I was shipped off to Catholic school for eight years of mean old nuns hurling erasers at my head. Catholic education my ass!
The flag pole. I can still hear the sound the rope made as it swung in the way hitting against the side of the pole. Just last week they replaced the flag pole that was standing for over 50 years.
The grate. This was another ditch in the front of the school that had a covering. A loose flimsy covering. When you walked on it, it would creak and shake and shimmy. We used the grate as a test to show allegiance to the Dare Devil’s club. Sort of like walking the plank to swear your loyalty. No one fell in, but it did cave in once when we tossed a building block in the center.
Side view of the school. This is the ledge we used to walk from one end to the next just to see if we could. Sometimes we made it, sometimes not. It would take an hour or two to complete the task.
Another view of the window ledge we walked as kids. In walking the ledge, we tried to knock each other off. It took a long time, but hell, we were kids, and we had nothing but time in the summer.
Basketball courts. There used to be two back boards and a lined court. There was almost always a game going on at one of the courts. Now, not even a back board remains.
The view to the street. Back in the day, the entire area was covered with heavy brush, almost jungle like where forts and numerous hiding places were made.
The black top. This is where we played kick ball and a form of soccer. This was also the site of many a bot made bike ramps and broken bones.
This is the school drive entrance. When we were little kids, when it rained really hard, the street would flood from water running down the drive. The water was running so fast, we were able to surf. We got our winter sleds, the round metal spinning plate ones, and used them as surf boards. We would start at the black sewer and surf as far as we could down the drive. Being from Ohio, none of us were very good at surfing so we rarely made it to the bottom but it was fun as hell.
This post dedicated to my best friend, Hippy Mark. Rocketeers for life my friend.
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