Tag Archives: parenting

Your Heart Just Gets Larger

26 Jan

Recently my cousin uncovered a photo, I had never seen before. When my Grandma Esther died, my Dad and his siblings divided up the family photos.  My cousin is now investigating the ones in her Dad and Mom’s album. This photo actually had something written on the back of it.  And I am the one with the story, because of my story.


When I married, I never expected infertility. I was in love, we were healthy, there were no problems. So when decided to get pregnant, I was devastated when we seemed unable to have children.

After the first year , I was sent on to a specialist and started on years of tests, surgeries and medical treatments.  Throughout this all, I had one major supporter, my Grandma Esther.  In her late 80s, Grandma was not one to let me give up. During a time when long distance phone calls cost extra before 11 pm, Grandma became my late night phone call.

I lived in Kansas, so when my phone rang after 10 pm, I knew it was an East Coast call. If it was not my parents, it was Grandma Esther with advise!  Her first calls were to tell me that she also had problems when she first tried to have children. She told me to stop stressing and go to the ocean. She and grandpa went to the ocean and she got pregnant with my uncle.

Well, I could not go to the ocean from Kansas. But I felt the love. Over the next few years Grandma’s phone calls came with more involved medical advise. I could see in my mind’s eye, multitudes of grandmas sitting around and coming up with cures.

Eventually I did have a healthy baby girl. My Grandma was so excited. At age 88, she flew to Kansas to be here for my daughter’s naming. Grandma’s advise did not end. Having nursed three infants, she was an expert. She announced one day that I was doing it all wrong. “If you are going to nurse, you need to do it the right way,” she said. With in minutes she had placed cushions and a footstool around me, and nursing became so much easier.

I wish I could say that was the end of my struggles, but it was not. I was unable to have another pregnancy. But I was not done with motherhood. My husband and I turned to adoption.

It was not easy. We had two strikes against us. One, we already had one child. Two, we were Jewish. Agencies in Kansas were basically religion based. We were told we could register, but when a better qualified (Christian) family came, we would be put to the back of the line.  We tried private adoption. But two weeks before the baby was born, the mom changed her mind. Again difficult.

Finally we found the Adam’s Center, a local agency that helped Jewish families.  No longer in existence, it helped about three dozen families adopt babies. Not all were Jewish.  We were one of the fortunate ones, and our son arrived.

My Dad was a bit nervous about this. On his way home from a business trip in California, he stopped in Kansas to meet his newest grandson. My sister called in advance, “Dad is nervous that he won’t love him the same.”

No worries. Dad arrived. I put the baby in his arms. My Dad looked up and said, “how could you not love that punim, that face.”  And then he told me, “With each child and grandchild, you do not split the love you have. No your heart just gets bigger and bigger.”  My parents had big hearts.

Dad was still nervous about how his mother, my Grandma Esther, would react. As far as he knew, there had never been an adoption in the family. How little he knew.

Grandma was now 92.  She did not fly out, but she called. She was so happy and told me the story of her cousin, Messuganah Esther.  She told me  in the old days, early 1900s, people, who had no children,  often adopted orphan children. Most of the time they were related. But sometimes, they were the children of friends. I must say that orphan sometimes just meant one parent had died.

In any case, my Great Grandmother Ray, had a sister, Chamka.  When Chamka finally made it out of the Bialystok region to join her siblings in the USA, she was a widow with three young children. And she was pregnant.  What was she to do?  Her sister Sarah had no children. and Sarah had a good job and could support a child.  So when Chamka gave birth, the daughter Esther, was given to Sarah to raise. Because so many girls were named Esther, she received the nickname, Meshugganah Esther. (See previous blog, Too Many Esthers.)

The photo is touching. It shows Chamka (Champy) holding Meshugganah Esther’s daughter, Lenore.  And it tells part of the story on the back.


Needless to say, when I brought my son back East for the first time, my Grandma Esther showered him with the same love she gave every great grandchild. She had a handmade afghan waiting for him as she did for all 18 of her great grandchildren. Because in my family, with every child, grandchild and great grandchild, you do not divide your love, your heart only gets larger and able to hold more love.

The Purple Princess Car is Home!

16 Dec
Lara in Purple Car

She got the Purple Princess car for her second birthday. Here she is at 2 and 2 days.

After a 17 or so year stay in a home where it was loved by many children, my daughter’s purple car has returned home for Hanukkah 2015. I retrieved it in early December from its foster home.

I purchased the purple princess Little Tikes car for my daughter’s second birthday. Not the red sedan that most people purchase, this car was special. It made us think about the car in the movie, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” It had character and appeal.

When she was little, my daughter’s car stayed in our basement, which was finished, but had no furnishings, except for a multitude of toys.   Our neighbor’s had twin daughters who were five years older than my daughter. They would come over every day after school, sometimes with their older sister, and play with my daughter. They loved to push her around in the purple princess car. She would get dressed up in elaborate outfits including a toy tiara. And they would entertain her for hours.

The purple car was so important to her. She just loved it. But in time she outgrew it and could no longer fit behind the wheel. Then our son, who was 4 ½ years younger, outgrew the car as well.

Elephant slide

My daughter plays on her beloved elephant slide. An empty basement except for toys.

I had a basement filled with Little Tikes toys: a kitchen, a workshop, easel, car, airplane, rocking horse, shopping cart, dishes, an elephant slide (another favorite!), teeter/totter, picnic table, table and chairs, toy chests, bookshelves. We even had a Little Tikes Log cabin in the basement, which the boys loved to ‘build’ on with the Little Tikes tools. There was just so much!

A friend of mine sold Little Tikes items so I had an easy way to get these items at a reasonable price. But it was enough! I decided I had to find homes for some of these toys. A cousin took a few items, but she did not want nor had room for all of it. And her son had no desire for the little girl toys. I had to find a loving home for all these beloved toys.

One day I was speaking to one of the kindergarten teachers at the school where I taught. She had been my children’s teacher, and was now a grandmother. She wanted some toys for her grandchildren to enjoy at her home.   Did I have a deal for her! Take my toys. I have tons, I told her. We set a date for her to come and see my stash!

I was excited. I had found a good home for the toys in my basement. Chose what you want, I told her. She came over and took many of the toys, including the purple princess car. I was so happy that the toys would be loved. I took the money she paid me and donated it to charity, a double mitzvah. The toys had a home, and others had food.

I thought it was wonderful till my daughter came home from school. She was in middle school. When I told them what I had done with the Little Tykes toys, she immediately said, “Not my car!” Yes it was gone as well. She wanted me to get it back.

But I really did not think she needed it. Eventually her tears and pouting got to me. She really wanted the car back even though she could not use it. Ridiculous, I know. I called. “I think I need the car back,” I told my friend. She could not give it back. Her granddaughter loved that car and used it whenever she came over. So I said keep it. But when your grandchildren are done with it, I would like to have it back. She made that promise. She would return the car to me in the future.

I told my daughter that eventually we would have the purple princess car back. She was still angry, but that was the only solution. Over the years, whenever she got really mad at me, she would bring it up. “How could you give away my car! You didn’t even ask!”

The purple car loomed over us as a point of contention.   Even the twins, their older sister, and their mother could not believe I had given away the purple princess car. For 17 years I lived with this blight on my existence.

Until December 5, 2015, at Barnes and Noble when I saw the teacher. I had not seen her for a number of years. We hugged. And she said. I have the purple car. My grandchildren are grown, and I know that your daughter is getting married. Would you like the car back?”

Would I like the car back!!! OF COURSE! I will be in touch I said.

Luckily we are Facebook friends. I sent her a private message with my phone number. She called. Less than a week later, on December 11, I went on what I called a secret Hanukkah mission, to get the car back.

IMG_7292

The Purple Princess Car on the day I picked it up to come home.

Friday morning on the fifth day of Hanukkah, I visited with my old friend…and the car. We caught up on family and just chatted for over an hour. It was a great visit. Then we carried the purple princess car out of her house, and I loaded it into the trunk of my car.

When I got home, I emailed my daughter that we needed to speak. I had a Hanukkah surprise.

Later that day when we were able to speak, we videoed chatted. “I am going to send you an email. DO NOT open it till we are talking,” I commanded.

She listened. When she opened the email my daughter was so happy. There was a photo of the purple princess car and her kindergarten teacher. I took a photo of them together so she could see that it was really her car.

She said “Finally! Is it home? ” I sent her a photo of the car in our garage. Lara’s Hanukkah is complete.

I posted a note about the return of the car on my Facebook page.   One of my daughter’s high school teachers commented that even she knew about the purple car, as my daughter had written about it in English class. I know that car was in my daughter’s soul.

I am so thankful that the ‘foster’ family took such good care of the purple princess car. I am so thankful the promise to return it to us was fulfilled.

My daughter shared the photo on her Facebook page and wrote:

“My car is home! And it’s perfect timing too because I was just saying to my fiancée that I really need a small one-person car.”

I hate to be the one to disappoint her, but my husband says she will no longer fit into the purple princess car. But we are glad that we made her Hanukkah complete.

 

 

PS: The car is currently almost 28 years old!  It has held up remarkably well with love and attention!

http://www.littletikes.com/riding/icat/riding?setpagenum=

Help! My Life Has Become an Episode of Star Trek!

1 Dec

In Season 5, Episode 6, of Star Trek: the Next Generation, the crew is attacked by a video game trying to turn the crew into video game zombies. They have the first case I can remember of what the show called, “Virtual Reality Addiction.”

The writers had precognition! I feel at times that I am turning into a zombie addicted to games on my IPhone.   Since I got my IPhone 6, with its bigger screen and better graphics, I find myself playing these games much more often. Yes, I was always a ‘Words with Friends’ addicted person. I had to play it several times a day. But now, I find myself playing Dots and Solitaire and Blitz, when I should be doing something else. I do not even like those games that much!

For example, when I used go to a doctor’s office and knew I have to wait for awhile, I would bring my crocheting and work on my current project. But today, I went to the dentist, and did not bring my crochet bag. Instead, even though there was a sign asking that people turn off their phones, I sat in the waiting room with others playing my games. I was not the only one. There were other phone addicted people on their phones as well!

What was that about? I should have been working on one of my projects. I have a baby blanket that needs to be done!!! The baby was six weeks early, and my blanket is only part way completed. I should have worked a few rows while I waited. But the Phone and the games had me bond in their control!

Then there are my early mornings. When I first get up, I usually watch the news for 30 minutes before I get out of bed. But now, I get up for a minute to get my phone and take it into bed with me while I watch the news. Why?

At least I do not sleep with it like some people do. But I do check my mail first thing in the morning. As I listen to the news, I play games and watch television at the same time. Why?

Then there is the information from my UP. On my phone is an ap that tells how long I slept and how many steps I have taken.   Why do I need to check several times a day. Isn’t once enough. NO!

I have to force myself to put my phone down.   And each time that happens, I flash back the Star Trek episode called “The Game.”   I am there. I could have easily fallen prey to that evil game that controlled the crew members’ minds. This has got to stop!

I never understood my son’s affliction to playing video games whenever he could. He had Nintendo, PlayStation, X Box, hand held video game things! And whenever he was not in school or working on school work, he played games. I could never get into it even though he tried to teach me. I would ask why he was wasting his time. He should be outside running around. It was not that bad as he did do gymnastics and tae kwon do. So he had lots of exercise. But those hours playing games made me crazy.

But now I understand! My I Phone has me cornered and in its control. I would take the games off. But I know I cannot. I force myself NOT to add more aps. They would only take up more of my time. It has to stop! On the few occasions I leave my phone at home, I feel disconnected. I don’t see on my dashboard the words, “connected to phone.” And I worry. What if someone needs me. But before cell phones, I was fine. So I force myself go about my way without a phone for a few hours. And I do survive.

I have to add an another fact to this evil addiction. In the show it was William Riker who brings the game back to the ship. He has visited the planet, “RISA.” This is scary. That is my younger sister’s name.   She has been trying to be in control for over 50 years. But I stay in my role of older sister. Perhaps, however, she has a plot to take over my mind through games.   Wait that sounds paranoid. Those games are getting to me. She cannot be plotting this? Can she?

I do have to wonder sometimes who is in control: me or the games and information on my IPhone?

Is this really a good thing? I know I am not the only one caught up in the game aps. Look at all those little children playing on their own IPads! It could be that we are all inside a Star Trek episode.

Maybe this is an alternate universe? Maybe Data did not destroy the program and it now is putting all of us in the middle of a Star Trek episode.

What I Learned at a Harry Chapin Concert and Why I am Thankful For the Lesson

26 Nov

I went to my first concert at Drew University to hear Harry Chapin. I had been to musicals on Broadway, opera performances at the Met, and symphony concerts. I had even been in Central Park in 1973 when Carole King gave a free concert. I along with tens of thousands of people packed the park. I really did not see her, but I remember the sights and the sounds.

And of course, I was close to Woodstock in 1969 since it was held just a mile and a half from our summer home. With the acoustics and the hundreds of thousands of people, Woodstock actually came to me. I could feel the ground shake and the music rock from my bungalow. It really was a memorable experience.

But I had never ever been to a ‘rock’ concert before, where I actually could see the performer up close. The Harry Chapin concert at Drew was my first such experience.

I have never forgotten his concert, even though I have been to many concerts since then and have seen performances by many musicians. I do not know how, but I was able to sit near the front of the room with my friends. I don’t know how we squeezed so far forward. Did we have tickets with seat assignments? Who remembers ? All I know is that we had great seats! If we actually sat. I sort of remember standing most of the time.

I do know that Harry Chapin touched my soul that night. He sang, “Cat’s in the Cradle,” among many other songs. But it was this song that has stayed with me throughout my life. Listening to him sing that song made me happy and thankful that my Dad always paid attention to us. My Dad always found time to be with us and give us attention.

At the end of the song when the son does not have time for his father, I teared up. Even though I was not quite 20, I already felt his angst of not connecting.

Although the words of that song made me sad, I loved Harry Chapin’s voice and I loved the story lyrics of his ballads. I became a forever Harry Chapin fan.

I owned his records, and then when records (or vinyls) became obsolete, I purchased his songs on CD and ripped them onto my computer and cell phone.

When I had my own children, I took to my heart the lyrics of “Cat’s in the Cradle.” I always made sure that my husband and I had time with our children. My husband, as a physician, was busy. But he always had time to be in charge of bath time and to read bedtime stories to our children.

It was a tradition that he hated missing when he was out of town. And our children hated when he was gone. My bedtime reading was never good enough because Dad made every character special with a different voice. When he read the Harry Potter books…. All the Harry Potter books… we would all sit in the bedroom to listen to him read. Yes, he even read to us when our children could read the books by themselves. Our daughter would zoom through the books by herself, but still come in to hear my husband read.

He always stopped after one or two chapters and we would beg for more. “Just a little bit more, please.” Sometimes he would give in and read a bit more. But it really was never enough. He was and is a great Dad.

So when my children say, “I’m gonna be like him,” I know that they mean they will be good parents who spend time with their children. Not distant parents who missed the best times of their children’s lives.

Over the years other concerts have made an impression: Paul Simon; Brian Wilson; James Taylor; Peter, Paul and Mary. My husband and I took our children to see Weird Al Yankovic…twice. Two family outings I do not think we will ever forget. (The third time they wanted to go, they were old enough to go without us!)

In the past year I have been to three concerts by some of my favorite ‘oldies’: James Taylor, Neil Diamond, Diana Ross. All of them have songs that I love. And have meaning for me. James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” reminds me of the summer I was 16. Diana Ross has many songs I love. And Neil Diamond’s songs make me want to dance.

It is a different feeling when I go to see these concerts. Yes for Diana Ross, we were all on our feet almost the entire concert singing and dancing along. I enjoyed the crowds singing along with Neil Diamond at the Sprint Center in Kansas City and at the wonderful concert at the Starlight Theater to listen to James Taylor.

But nothing compares to that first concert at Drew. The excitement I felt walking from the dorms; the anticipation of being with so many people listening to a favorite singer; the joy of being there and seeing him in person: it was fantastic.

A moment I will never forget mainly due to a song that impacted my life. I was so fortunate not to have a far away father who had no time. I have heard this following many times, “You never hear anyone say I wish I had spent more time at work, rather they say, I wish I had more time with my family.”

I am thankful that in my world family came first.

 

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/harrychapin/catsinthecradle.html

Upgrading My IPhone Turns Into Drama!

26 Jul

I made the plunge. I upgraded my Iphone from a 4 to a 6. It was dramatic and traumatic. The young man, Ian, at the Verizon store was friendly and competent. He and my husband talked about my phone and got me the upgrade I wanted. The wonderful blue Mophie case is stunning and will keep my phone charged.

I phone

But there was a little problem, which they sort of blamed on me. I had not backed up my old phone for a while. Okay so I forgot, big deal. And it was not on the I Cloud at all.

“I don’t want people stealing my stuff!” I announced to Ian and my husband.

The young man smiled, the same sort of smile my son makes when I comment on the internet and the web and the cloud and all that stuff. I even said, “You are making the same exact face my 24 year old son makes.”

“I am 24 also,” he admitted. I was not surprised. They all have the same expressions some times when talking to parental age adults. He then told me that Apple has made the Cloud more secure and the hackers do not go after normal people like me on the Cloud.  Really? How can he be sure?

Fine. So he could not transfer my info at that moment. He and my husband agreed that this could be done easily at home. My husband knew what to do. We would just take both phones home. Plug my old phone, update to my ITunes account and all would be just fine.

HA!  As I left the store I told him to be ready for a call.

The first part went fine. I plugged in my old IPhone 4 and backed it up to my ITunes account. No problems. I was happy. Then I turned it over to my husband.

He made some noises. They were not polite noises.   He turned to me, “When was the last time you updated you OS? Your Operating System?” He demanded. “You are way out of date.”

So. What’s the big deal. I was happy.

I have not updated my operating system for a while. I admit it. So what? I did not need anything. All was going just fine till now! So what that I have not been able to update my ITunes because I did not update my operating system? My I tunes worked with my old phone. But this then became a problem because the new phone could not speak to the old I Tunes. Shucks.

Then my husband started the process of updating my operating system. In the meantime, I had no phone. NO Phone. In this day and age, I felt cut off. I needed to call my son because we were volunteering for a National Council of Jewish Women’s event, and he had to come and get me.

“Yes,” my son said as he answer the phone.

“Are you still going with me?” I asked.

“Sure, text me about 15 minutes before we need to go. Do you want me to drive over there?”

So I told him I could not text him because my phone was no longer working and we could not get my new phone connected and the operating system was taking forever to install and I need new I tunes. Okay, maybe I was whining a little bit. Maybe I sounded like a two-year old.

But at the exact same moment, the exact moment, my husband and my son both said simultaneously (yes I know I am redundant!), “You are being way too dramatic, it will work out!”

Me! Dramatic! Okay, maybe a little.

My son showed up 15 minutes early to check out the progress. The computer was still thinking. Did I tell you that I have a five-year-old computer. I was really worried they were going to make me get a new computer too. That would have been a disaster!

We left the house. My son and I volunteered, while my husband sat and watched the computer think and update.

When I got home close to 11 pm, my husband was in bed. The computer was not quite done. But after about five more minutes, the new operating system was installed. So I tried to install ITunes 12. But it would not work. My computer’s operating system was still not good enough. However, I could install I Tunes 11 something.

And I got it to all work. My new I Phone connected to my computer. It spoke to my I Tunes account and my backed up information flowed through a wire into the new phone. I was successful. I did not need my husband or my son. I did all on my own.

I updated my phone’s apps.   All seemed well and good.But I noticed something odd. Some of my apps, although they are still visible in my settings, do not appear on the phone. Hmmmmm. I had to work for awhile to get those all sorted out. Eventually they reappeared as icons on my phone.  Success!

However, I then got into my car to go volunteer again. My phone would not sync with my car. Of course not! I now had a new phone. I had to delete my old phone and re-sync with my new phone. But I forgot to download my phone book.  It only took a moment once I figured out what to do, but I had to figure it out.

Getting a new phone is really a hassle.  Over and Over again I had to reinter passwords…but first I had to remember them.  I had to reinstall my Jawbone Up and re-sync the phone to the Up.  I had to re-enter my wifi password.  I spent many hours getting everything up to date.  But I also did not need to call Ian at Verizon.  I was able to do it all myself,  well with some help from my husband and perhaps a few bouts of anxiety!

I was feeling very badly for myself because of all the hassles of the past 18 hours, until I was telling my tale of woe to another volunteer. She said, “I know what you mean. My family wants me to update my phone, but I am not sure.”

Then she pulled out an old phone with a keypad. She did not even own a smart phone. I looked her and smiled. “You are in big trouble!” I said.

“I know,” She responded. “I am not sure I can handle a smart phone. “

I admit, updating my phone was very traumatic and dramatic for me. But she is in for a big shock.

How I loved the Golden Chair! But Giving it Away Might Be A Blessing.

11 Jun

As a child I was in love with the Golden chair that was situated in front of a vanity table at my grandparent’s home. This small easy chair had been my mother’s chair. It was once upholstered in a print fabric, but sometime after my Mom got married, my grandmother had it upholstered in a golden leatherette.

I LOVED that chair. It was the perfect size for a child to sit in and imagine. I imagined I was a princess when I sat in that chair! I imagined I was on an adventure when I reclined in the chair. I would read a book and lounge there, dreaming. I so wanted that chair.

I used to ask my Grandma, all the time, if my parents could bring the Golden chair home and keep it in my bedroom. And my Grandma always said, “No!” She would not give up the chair.

She never sat in it. I am not sure if she kept it because she knew I loved to sit in it; or if she had another reason? My Grandma did not like to give things away. She did not horde, but relinquishing her possessions was difficult. Perhaps it was the results of her childhood in Europe in the early 1900s? I do know. I only know she would not give me the chair!

The chair was in my grandparent’s apartment in New Jersey. There was an area that was kept locked and separate. Behind the locks were the living room and my mother’s old bedroom. As I got older, Grandma would unlock the door and let me be there on my own to dream in the chair.

When they moved to the Catskills for the entire year, the chair went with them. It was always a part of their home. It was a great place for me to read a book on a rainy Catskills day.

Grandma did know how I longed for the Golden chair. She always told me that it would be my chair one day: that I would own their bedroom set and the chair. So I should not worry. She knew that I loved the golden chair. But I did not want to wait! I wanted the chair then, when I was a girl.

My grandmother died when I was 26 years old. My grandfather passed away when I was 34 years old. About a year after my Grandpa died, my parents had the bedroom set and the Golden chair shipped to my home in Kansas.

It was bittersweet. I was glad the Golden chair was finally mine. But I missed my grandparents.

The chair

I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the chair. I had it re-upholstered in a sparkling geometric print fabric. And I placed it in the room of my then three-year-old daughter. It had the place of honor in a corner with a lamp behind it. I told her that it would be her reading and imagining chair. And it was. She sat there often with a cat either on her lap or under the chair. She read many a books in that chair.

When she was older, she used it as a desk chair, even though it really was not intended for a desk. I think she loves the chair as much as I do.

My Mom once asked me if I was happy that I finally got my chair. And I was happy, but I told my Mom I would have enjoyed the chair even more if Grandma had given to me when she was alive. Receiving the chair after they died put a pall on it. I told my Mom that I would have loved having the chair to read in all the time, not just when I visited my grandparents.

Most important, if Grandma had given me the chair when she was alive, I would have known that she really wanted me to have it. Getting it when she had passed away took some of the joy out of the chair. In fact, I never have sat in the chair in all the years that I have owned it.

My parents gave us items when they were alive. In my mind,I think the Golden chair had something to do with it. When each of my siblings and I had a child, we were presented a piece of family jewelry.   Artwork and furniture was given as well.   Yes, when they passed away a few months apart, we had many other things to go through. But they had always been so generous and loving, we were able to say that there was nothing worth fighting over! These were my brother’s favorite words.

I hope to be that way with my children. I do not want them to wait till I am dead to get something from my house that they really want. My husband always says that ‘we don’t own material items, they own us if we let them.’   There is no item in my house that I need, except maybe my computer.

I would rather see the joy on my children’s faces using something they love from my home. I hope that one day my daughter says to me, “Mom I want the Golden chair.” And even though I have always loved that chair, it would be a blessing for me to give to my daughter.

Happily Playing Stickball In the Middle of the Street

21 May

Today’s Moms tell their children constantly, “Don’t play in the street.” But where I grew up in North Bergen, New Jersey, in the 1950s, 60s and early 70s, we almost always played in the streets. It is not that our Moms said, “Go play in the street.” It was more, “Get outside and play!” And the street was the place to go.

It was a common event to see a group of children racing the bases in a heated game of stickball, running in the street. We often had ten or more involved in the game.

On our block, 78th Street between Boulevard East and Park Avenue, we had an upward battle to our game as we lived on a hill. So playing stickball was even more difficult. Hitting the ball and running uphill was a challenge. But we had fun.

I cannot tell you how many windows were broken over the years, but I remember at least two. When a window was smashed, we all went running. Eventually the truth came out.

But I can tell you that our mothers never told us to get out of the street. It was the cars that had to be careful, not the children. People expected the streets to be teeming with activity.

Stickball was played with a broomstick and a pink rubber ball (Spaulding High Flyer, my brother says), or whatever ball happened to be available. We had designated bases that changed each day we played depending on who parked where. A certain car, a telephone pole, a manhole cover, all of these could be named designated bases.

But besides stickball, the street was also the site of football, hide and seek, hopscotch, and any other game that needs a space to run.

I have to say that my favorite ‘street’ story of all concerns my brother. I know he was in high school, because he was already tall. He grew to about six feet. And that is what caused his problem. If he had been shorter, he probably would not have been hurt.

We were playing in the street My brother and his friend were playing football.  Tossing a ball back and forth across the street, in the street on the sidewalk.  But not just tossing, throwing it hard.   My brother caught the ball and turn to run, unbeknownst to him, a volkswagen had parked right where he turned to run.  Usually that car went into the garage, but this time it just was on the sidewalk.

My brother says, “So Jack throws me the ball and I spin to run, never expecting a car to be in the driveway and slam right into the car. Volkswagen’s at that time had a rain guard over the door that was steel. I hit my lip right into this and it split. Spilling lots of blood and needing two stitches.”

There was blood; lots of blood. I have since learned, as a parent, that the face bleeds much more that any part of the body. And my brother’s face was filled with blood, as was the street and the Volkswagen.

Luckily that day a parent was home. I do not say this sarcastically. We would come home from school by ourselves. Make a snack by ourselves and go out to play by ourselves. It was the same way for almost all the kids on the block.

Many other accidents occurred over the years.   I remember many of them, like when my brother’s friend got his hand caught in between a bunch of nails on a piece of wood.  Yes he did. It was a weird accident. My parents took him to the hospital, as his parents were not home.  He was holding the wood on his lap all the way and into the emergency room.

There was one grandma who lived on the block, and she was often the one to wipe away the blood and check to make sure the injured child would survive. She was there the day my sister’s front teeth were knocked out and took care of my sister till my Mom got home. We had some adult supervision. But with so many children on the block, any parent who was home took care of any issues that occurred…issues sometimes being arguments or sometimes being injuries! No one ever argued if a parent disciplined someone else’s children or took care of them.

But I digress. One this day, our parents were home. And my brother was taken to the emergency room at North Hudson Hospital. I was not there, but I have heard that the conversation went something like this:

“How did you get hurt?” The doctor asks.

“I ran into a car,” my brother responds.

“You mean a car ran into you. You got hit by a car,” the doctor says.

“NO, I mean I ran into a car playing stickball,” my brother was honest. “The car was parked. The car did not hit me. I hit the car.”

The doctor then had to laugh. I believe he even said something like, I have never had to stitch a kid who hit a car before.

My brother was fine. He had to get stitches in his face. But that was nothing new for him. He had had stitches before from when he played Superman off the front stoop when we lived on Third Avenue in North Bergen, and another time when a wooden train piece hit him in the head.

He came home with a great story to tell. We all heard about the doctor who thought he got hit by a car!

The next day my brother was back at playing stick ball and other games in the street. Games did not end because of one minor injury. We continued to happily play stickball in the middle of the street for years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stickball