Growing up in a small town had it's advantages. Basically, everyone pretty much new everyone else. You didn't have to worry who your neighbours were and you could play outside without worrying about perverts and preditors.
I played outside a lot. There weren't many kids my age when I was little on my street, so I tormented the older folks. I'd knock on their doors, seeing if they had anything good to eat. My grandparents lived next door, and my grandmother always had something tasty just waiting for me. I think she loved to watch me eat. "Na, na", (here, here) she would say, setting the delicious treat in front of me.
My grandparents came immigrated here from Yugoslavia, and my grandmother spoke broken English. Half English, half Croatian .. it wasn't hard for me to understand her. My grandfather would sit in the veranda of their house, waiting for me to wander over. I was told he loved for me to come over for lunch. He said it made his food taste better. I remember he would always say to me what a nice little boy I was. I had long, blonde hair, and I would get so angry that he would think I was a boy! I would stomp my foot, with my hands on my hips and insist that I was a girl. He would shake his head and say, "no.. no, I don't think so." Always with a smirk on his face.
My grandfather passed away a few days after my fourth birthday. I didn't understand what that meant. I remember my grandmother crying. I remember being at the funeral home and trying to wake my grandfather up. To me, he looked like he was sleeping. I often ran into his bedroom and woke him up at nap time. This was just like nap time, just a fancier bed.
Across the street from our house was MacDonald's Pop Factory. I loved to watch the delivery trucks coming in and going out. Some days I would go and sit on the Factory's top step and try to look thirsty, hoping that one of the workers would take pity on me and bring me a "red pop". Red pop or Cream Soda, was my favourite. MacDonald's made the best tasting pop. There was always a bottle of gingerale in my grandmother's fridge. She bought it by the case. A case of pop came in a wooden crate back then, and they used glass bottles. Plastic wasn't used. Church keys (bottle openers) were a must in every kitchen drawer, because there was no such thing as twist off caps.
All of the people on my street have passed on. All but one. There's just my my Mom and Dad that are still the original owners of their house from when I was born and brought home from the hospital. I've watched them all grow older and pass on to the next life. It's been a privilege to know each of them. They all taught me a something, whether they realized it or not. They say it takes a village to raise a child. My grandparents, along with my surrogate grandparents on Pine Street, were my village, and I love and miss them.