Playing in the Street

“There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.” The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

I feel sorry for so many children today. Maybe they don’t sense the oppression that I believe they live under, especially now as the days begin to warm and grow longer.

One of the privileges of senior adulthood is that you get to talk about the good old days whether anyone cares or not, listens or not, believes you or not. Let’s start this way: back when I was a boy…

We played in the street. We crawled through broken windows exploring empty buildings. We waded the banks of the Arkansas river. We rode our bikes to the little gas station on 71st street to reach into the icy water of the pop box for a bottle of Grapette. The days were full and lasted until after dark when we could hear someone’s parent summoning him home.

This photo of our Grand-Girls and some of their friends reminded me of those times. I am so glad they live in a town, among great friends where they can play in the street, where they are not limited to living adventures only through TV shows and a game on an iPad.

I do not claim to be a poet, but I like to dabble. A while back I took a challenge to write a poem about the street where I grew up. Here it is:


On Quincy Street south of seventy-first
A portal stood seen just by boys and girls
The lack of dreams by which adults are cursed
Vice versa saved the wonder of this world.
Quincy to kids as an oyster to pearl
A treasure trove and innocent eyes to see
Princess, Prince or King; not a one a churl
Creating as those who are completely free.
In the venues diverse like the old oak trees
The rock path that leads to the river’s edge
Where grade and pace caused many a skinned knee
But some shed blood strengthens the secret pledge.
The sign at the head of Quincy reads, “Dead End”
It should have said, “Path that adventure tends.”