A time that reminds me of childhood

Christmas always does that…remind me of the joy, fantasy and pure fun of those wonderful days of Christmas. And I think of friends. This is a story I wrote for, and broadcasted on national public radio. The  season makes me nostalgic for those friends of yesteryear.

This I Believe*

I believe we should never lose touch with our childhood friends. Steve called to tell me how much he enjoyed my stories of growing up in a cozy neighborhood in Providence in the late ‘40’s and early ‘50’s.  He was an inseparable childhood friend who I had not seen in 50 years. He wanted to get together to reminisce, so we arranged a lunch date. I was eager to see him and when I did, I realized that fifty years was a chronological event and not an emotional loss, because we picked up where we left off, as if the last time I saw him was a week ago.

We quickly caught up on careers and family, and then moved to the old days, the days of uncontrollable laughter and simplicity, when all we had to think of was school, girls and fun. 

“Let’s drive through the old neighborhoods and visit all the great places we enjoyed.” We did. From grade to elementary to junior high schools; from home to home, slowly driving the streets we frequented. It seemed like such a long walk then.

“That’s where Bob lived. His Mom gave us cold drinks after we played touch football on that hot street.”

“Look, the old netless hoop is still hanging.”

“And that small lot where we played football. My god, I thought those touchdown runs were so long! I hit a home run off the third floor of that house, a ‘Ballantine Blast’ as Mel Allen might have said.”

“And hardly forty feet away now.”

“Let’s go to the Box.” The box was a dam in the river behind the mills on Valley Street where we cooled after a summer sandlot game. 

In those days, the river was less than clean. Passing us as we swam were things both animate and inanimate, and there were streams of pea green colors snaking along the middle. Did I see a dead rat?

Today, the river is different; as was everything else we passed, whether in size, appearance or loss. Sure, some of the buildings and houses were gone. But the river remained.

It now was a fish ladder for alewives and salmon, pristine, drinkable even. Nearby was a board full of pictures and explanations.

“It’s not the same.”  

“Nope, but it’s good. The river is so much better.”

Steve opened his knife, and we played jackknife baseball while sitting opposite each other on a bench near the river as we did so many years ago. We talked some more of long ago friends and places. We looked at each other often. Things were different, but not by much. Childhood friends are forever

 *Broadcast August 2009 on WRNI Radio

Picture…Steve center front, other best friend Bob, left front. And me…standing on the right.

Explore posts in the same categories: Growing up Italian, Stories of the 1940's and 1950's

3 Comments on “A time that reminds me of childhood”

  1. I’d forgotten about those old-fashioned babushkas we girls all wore in the 40s. They were soon replaced by long scarves, stylishly crossed under our chins and thrown back over our shoulders. You guys were probably still wearing knickers except in the winter. Or maybe only kids on the south side of town wore them.

  2. Nancy Cronin Says:

    Hi, Ed,

    I just wanted to say that you don’t have to be Italian to enjoy your stories. Those of us who grew up in the 40s and 50s share so many of the same experiences. Thank you for bringing so many memories to life for us!

  3. Ed sent along a copy of his book as a thank you for a recent visit to Vibco in Richmond . I was so pleased and know he had a conversation with one of our associates Giovanni Luzzi from westerly first generation American , That before i cracked the spine of the book I had to offer it up to Mr Luzzi for the first read . And what a treat we are sharing his excitement together as he reports back to me about his great emotional connect with the Heritage. I love it can’t wait to read it Myself . Being a first generation Swede and very proud of all our hertiages and customs that we all grew up with and love the traditions family and of course all the food!!!!

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