Sunday, February 8, 2009

My first neighborhood

Realtors chant it: location, location, location. The neighborhoods I grew up in hold my memories like a nest holds eggs. I cannot write about my childhood without first describing where it happened.

From about age 3 to age 11, I lived in Spring Park, Minnesota. We lived on a street that ran about a mile, connecting one busy road to another. It was not a busy street, and we were free to cross it from a young age. Across the street from our house was one of the bays of Lake Minnetonka, so all the houses on that side of the street were lake homes. Oddly, I don't know what was behind our house. My world ended at the end of our back yard.

My best friend, Margie Swanson, lived directly across the street from us. They had a big hill in their back yard going down to the lake, which we liked to roll down. There was a swamp next to their property at lakeside, which we enjoyed mucking about in.

I spent a lot of time in Margie's house, and can visualize it as well as my own. I got to know her family well. Her dad liked to make coins magically appear from behind our ears, and he called me "Stebbie." He'd say, "What's your name?" and I'd say, "It's Debbie." He'd say "Oh, Stebbie." I'd laugh and say, "No, it's Debbie." "Oh, Stebbie." Somehow it never got old. When we did dishes at Margie's house, her mother made us wipe each piece of silverware individually and put it away before doing the next. Margie had 3 older sisters, and one younger brother. The oldest sister was a stewardess, which my mother found somewhat scandalous. The sister just older than Margie was named Barbie, and we played with her often, mostly dolls. We played hide and seek in their house a lot. One time, I hid in the back of a rack of coats being stored in their sunroom. I found a box of books being stored behind the coat rack, and got so lost in reading that I didn't hear them call "Ally ally all sound freedom." I didn't emerge for quite some time, possibly hours. Everyone was amazed when I finally appeared. Word got around the neighborhood on that one, and even adults I didn't really know teased me about it.

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