Before Carpenter Country, I happily lived through years of Archie comic books, penny candy and ice cream on a stick.
Yes, WWII was raging, but it was still a great time to be a kid.
Home was a three room apartment in a two story building that covered an entire city block. Nationalities included Irish, English, Swedish, Italian, Polish and German.
Every Saturday and Sunday kids sampled each other’s religions–Jewish, Catholic, Protestant–what did it matter as long as we could all hang out together?
And there were lots of us. Sometimes the whole block echoed with the sound of our voices.
“Hey, do you want to play hide and seek?”
“Who’s got a jump rope?”
“How about a baseball game?”
“I have chalk, let’s play Potsie!”
Most mothers were home and very busy instructing us in logic, fear and foresight.
“Eat everything on your plate, someone in Europe is starving.”
“Make sure you put on clean underwear, you might get hit by a car.”
“Quit yelling, the neighbors will think I’m beating you.”
Each afternoon around 4 o’clock the sound of an ice cream truck’s bell could be heard tinkling its way down the street. At that moment all games came to a halt. Dozens of kids turned, looked up at their apartment windows and chorused, “Mom, the Good Humor Man is coming!”
Curtains parted, screens popped open and coins dropped down into our outstretched hands. Soon, we’d all be sitting on the curb licking melting treats and trying to figure out what game to play next.
What a life–
–anyone for Ringalevio!