4108 Spruce Street.
That's where I grew up.
It was an older house-probably built in the 1940s. All the houses in the neighborhood kind of looked the same with some subtle differences.
The house was cream colored with green trim and there was a tiny one-car garage on the left side of the house that was used to store a variety of things as well as an '48 Buick convertible. There were three levels to the house: a basement (which was dank and scary until the remodel), the main floor (with very small rooms and a hallway kitchen), and an upstairs (which was where my room was located). It was a decent sized room compared to the size of the house. It had a lock on the door that could only be opened by a skeleton key, which was really cool when I was little. The walls were slanted like an a-frame and there was one lonely window across from the door. I loved this window. Many late summer nights I would open my window and stare out into the stars, dreaming and thinking about what life would be like when I was older. I wished upon those stars as long lonesome trains blew their horn in the distance. Life was simple in that room: dress up, sleepovers, reading Boxcar Children, making forts, and then at the end of the day, being tucked in by my mom and dad.
My brother and I and played outside a lot when we lived at that house. Our backyard was not very big, but it was big enough for a small above ground pool (in which most every day in the summer was spent making whirl pools), a very rickety old swing set (you know, the kind that when you swing so hard, you feel like you might just swing off the set), and a tree (which was great for climbing). But the majority of the time we played in our front lawn because it connected with our neighbors yard and they let us use it as well so there was twice as much space. Freeze tag, soccer games, catch, lemonade stands, and a slew of other activities were conducted in this yard. I remember learning how to ride my bike on the street in front of that yard. And I played with all sorts of fun toys that seem so foreign to me now: skip-its, chalk, pogo sticks, hula hoops, Frisbees, and other things like that. I'm pretty sure that I jumped 348 times on my pogo stick without falling off (yes, i remember that because it was kind of a big deal).
My house was on a horseshoe street, which is sort of like a cul-de-sac, but it loops all the way around like a U shape. My neighbors were mostly retired couples, with the exception of one and sometimes two families who had kids. (The house next door to the left of us was a rental house, so many different families came and went during the time that we were at the house.)
Myrna lived across the street in a single level mint green house with white trim. She was a nice Catholic widow who always sent us birthday cards with a one-dollar bill hidden inside. Whenever we visited, she always gave us gumdrops, which was a very special treat. (To this day, she still sends us birthday cards, a one-dollar bill always falls out, and I still have a hard time reading her cursive handwriting).
Betty and Clem lived in the house to the right of ours. It was a dark brown house and just as dark inside. They smoked and weren't very friendly to me and my brother, but they were nice enough to let us play on their front lawn and retrieve balls that landed in their back yard.
Neil and Fiona lived four to the left of us in a bright white house. If there had been a competition for the nicest yard in the neighborhood, theirs would have won by far. Roses, a perfectly manicured lawn, and many other trees, shrubs, and flowers were abundant and, of course, all labeled. Fiona always promised me she'd teach me how to make a daisy chain, but it never happened.
The only other kids on the street who happened to be my favorite neighbors were Nikki and Staci Harrington. They lived on the other side of Betty and Clem in a cheery blue house. Even though they were a few years older than my brother and I, they still participated in adventures with us.
Fall was my favorite time of year, mostly because every street in our entire neighborhood was lined with maple trees. The leaves would be every shade of yellows, oranges, and reds, which made for a magnificent view out of our front window. Dad used to rake the leaves into huge piles and then let us jump in them. I loved that.
Fall was also soccer season. One year, our home field was at Lincoln Elementary School which was about a two minute bike ride away from our house on Spruce Street. Soccer was definitely a highlight of every year for me. Even now, I can still recall the way those huge gray jersey's hung over my shoulders, so big that three of me could fit inside it with room to spare. I would stand out in the field and inhale the smell of the freshly cut grass every Saturday. About an hour later, smelly, grass-stained, mud-covered me would jump on my bike and race my dad home.
My best friend, Stephanie, lived on 41st Avenue which was about 2 streets north of where I lived. We used to be able to walk to each other's house, but we had to meet half way because our mothers were always concerned something would happen to us...but nothing ever did. I spent many afternoons over at her house, playing in her attic with dolls and other things. Sometimes, her parents would let us come with them when they walked down the street to play tennis at the courts at Lincoln Elementary School. That was always a treat.
My dad liked to take my brother and I on bike rides. At a very young age, I was familiar with the streets in my neighborhood. My favorite bike ride was when we would ride over to Frankin Park. Its playground consisted of a metal play structure that was covered in graffiti and had some really fast slides. They had swings there too, but I mostly remember the big field. The park overlooked the train tracks and Vancouver Lake and in the evenings, the view of the sunset from that park was amazing. At the bottom edge of the park, there were blackberry and raspberry bushes. My dad would always take us down there in the summers and we would eat lots of berries before we went home.
Sometimes, on very rare occasions, we would all ride down to the minute mart and dad and mom would let us buy candy. Usually afterwards, we road down and played hide-and-go-seek in Carter Park or sometimes go play at the jungle gym in Hidden Park. I liked Carter Park more because it had one of those carousel discs that you could spin around and around on until you felt like puking. (I'm not saying I liked puking, but it was one of the more scary things to do in a community park, which made me feel cooler.)
At the end of every day, we would come home to our sweet little house on Spruce Street. I don't live in that house anymore, but sometimes I go back and drive by it. It's still the same. Same trees, the same pool still sitting in the back yard, same stripes painted in the dining room. I really enjoyed growing up in that house and in that neighborhood. Revisiting the house makes the memories I made there all the more vivid and alive.