Saturday 6 October 2012


When I was growing up in Scarborough there was a gang of about twenty kids that lived and played in our neighbourhood. I suppose that the age ranged from seven to fifteen years and all were welcome.

We would get together to play road hockey, pick up baseball, hide-n-go seek, tag and generally explore and terrorize the neighbourhood like the good urban pirates that we were. When I think back to those days, I kind of wonder why we all managed to get along together so well. We didn’t all like each other, there were guys that I thought were downright jerks and I am sure the feelings were mutual, but in a way, I guess we needed each other.

This was a time before computer games, 200 TV channels or tolerant and understanding parents. More often enough, we were sent outside and told to be gone until lunch, supper of the street lights came on. Not just my brother and myself, but all of the kids in the neighbourhood were in the same boat. We all had great fun together and consequently, we managed to get into more than our fair share of trouble. It was bound to happen, considering the age range. I remember being told that the package of smokes that I stole from the store were the wrong brand. I was seven years old! I suppose that if I had known my Dickens I could have avoided this situation.

We would play all sorts of sports and it was pretty interesting that I could be so bad at so many sports. You would think there would be one or two that I excelled at, my brother was good at them all and it appears that he managed to get all of that particular gene combination. I was pretty good at defence in the road hockey games, but that was because of the extra long hockey stick I used rather than talent. No matter how bad any of us were, we always had a place on the team. You felt like you belonged, kind of like in the movies where people from the same neighbourhood in New York seem to stick together.

I was telling Hurricane about what life was like back in the day and I remembered how wonderful things were with fifty years of shadows between the young Kenny and the old Ken. I was telling him about how my dad would make us kites out of strips of wood, string and newspaper. I don’t remember those kites flying into outer space, but I do remember having a great time trying to get them up there. Most of our sessions of kite flying ended up with a broken kite in one hand and a great story consisting of “could haves” and “might have been”.

We would usually end or day of play with a game of hide-n-go seek. We played in a large area and once you were “it”, you were “it” for the night. The only way you would catch anyone would be if you were incredibly lucky or someone (my brother) took pity on you and let himself be caught. Even though you were looking for them, some kids just went inside and would watch TV with their moms and dads instead of hiding. The night would get darker and the street lights would begin to go on, and one by one our buddies would hear their parents calling their name for them to come in.
My dad was different though. Dad would stand at the door and let out a Tarzan yell that could be heard for miles. There was no mistaking who was calling and who was being called in. I suppose that at first we were embarrassed by the call, but eventually that was just the way dad called us in.

I’d give anything to hear that call again.

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