Tuesday, June 10, 2014

REMEMBERING CHAUNCEY STREET 13.Playing by Pat Aronica

Freddy on a hot summer's day on Chauncey St. c. 1948
Chauncey St. was designated a PAL street for the summer. The street was closed to traffic. Delivery trucks, fruit men, and junkies were all diverted. The city provided camp organizers, games, craft materials, permission to use the fire hydrants, and mostly anything needed to keep the neighborhood kids busy for the summer. We had use of pick-up-sticks, jacks, art supplies, playing cards, and a shower attached to the fire hydrant. We would be outside from early mornings ‘til the street lights turned on, unless, of course, our mothers called us in for meals. On especially hot nights, we were allowed to stay out ‘til 9:00, as long as we stayed on the stoop.

My sister, Mary, was interested in dress design, and somehow she acquired “modeling dolls.” They were similar to Barbie dolls, which we didn’t have then. When I was sick or alone, I got permission to play with these dolls. Using scraps of fabric, scarves, and ribbons, I could design all sorts of elaborate outfits for these dolls.

Patsy played Potsy
I’m sure everyone interested in games of this era has heard of stick ball, box ball, johnny on the pony, hop scotch, jump rope, street skating (with metal wheels), roller rink skating (with wooden wheels), hand ball, and on and on. We did not play hop scotch. Instead, we played a similar game called potsy. The boxes for potsy are arranged in a different configuration. To us, it was a very significant difference, like being a Dodger as opposed to being a Yankee fan.

Whenever a mother’s clothesline broke, we would rejoice. The old clothesline became a new jump rope for the kids in the neighborhood. Never mind the poor mother. Her wash lay in the dirty alleyway, and it would have to be washed again, on a wooden scrub board by very chapped hands. Jump rope was a big sport. I can still turn double-dutch, although I don’t think I could jump it anymore. 

© 2013, Patricia Aronia

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