Most people have fond memories of the neighborhood in which they grew up: the hangouts, the haunted houses, the secret hideouts. Rural or urban, every location has something unique and attractive to children. In this busy day and age, most children's lives are very over-scheduled and with the dangers of sexual predators, gangs, and drug dealers, as well as the electronic attractions of computer/video games, cell phones, and instant messaging/MySpace/FaceBook, kids don't roam free as they once did. Leave a record of some great memories for your descendants!
*Describe the neighborhood of your childhood. Was it rural or urban? If urban, what stores, parks, and businesses do you remember? If rural, describe the woods or plains, streams or lakes/ponds that you explored. Or perhaps you lived in a small town or the suburbs, which were a combination of the great outdoors and the community services.
*What was your favorite place to go hang out with your friends? Why? What were some of the things you did there?
*Who were your friends and where did they live? Describe them...how old they were, how you ended up becoming friends, what was special about them?
*Are you still in touch with your childhood friends? Why or why not? Where do they live now?
*What was your favorite place to go to be by yourself? Why? What were some of the things you did there?
*Was there a haunted house or cemetery or some other scary place in your neighborhood? Did you ever go exploring there? What happened?
*Was there a place from which your parents told you to stay away? What was it and why were you supposed to stay away from it? Did you ever visit it anyway? What happened?
*Where did you learn to swim? What was your favorite "swimming hole?"
*Where did you ride your bicycle?
*Where did you go to the movies? or shoot pool? or play video games (before they were available for home use)?
*Where did you go bowling? or rollerskating? or skateboarding? or sledding? or ice skating?
*What kinds of outdoor games did you play with your friends? Hopscotch? Marbles? Cowboys and Indians? Capture the flag? Tag? Jump rope?
*What kinds of mischief did you and your friends get into? Were you ever caught? If so, what were the consequences?
*Was there a house in the neighborhood that everyone gravitated to? You know, the one whose mom didn't care if you hung out there all day, as long as you cleaned up after yourselves? Was it your house, or someone else's? Describe what you used to do there.
*Was there a convenience store, malt shop, Mom and Pop store, candy store, or some other place that all the kids loved to go to get their treats? What kinds of treats were your favorite? Was there an ice cream truck that you used to frequent?
*Did you ever have a lemonade stand? Write about your successes or failures with that.
*If you lived in the country, where did you like to go fishing, hunting, hiking, or ORVing? Tell your stories.
*Did you ever run into wild animals (bears, snakes, etc.) or fierce farm animals (bulls, roosters, etc.) while playing out in the country? Tell about your adventures!
*Did you ever run away from home? Why? Where did you go and how long were you there?
*Did you have a tree house or clubhouse? Was it secret, or did everyone hang out there? Who built it?
Instead of writing down your responses, you could make an audio recording and transcribe it later. I can think of so many stories about running around as a kid, that writing them down would take a very long time! A recording would be simpler and faster. Find some photos of you and your friends hanging out, or of the places you used to frequent to illustrate your written journal.
Next week,we'll expand a bit and on focus on "Your Community."
(P.S. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!)