1st Christmas in Jacksonville – 1965
This is a 2-for-1 combo of Monday Music and Wonder (Years).
The Wonder Years is one of those shows I could watch over and over. In Season Two/Episode Six, Harper’s Woods, the childhood hangout of Kevin, Winnie, and Paul, is set for destruction. A shopping mall was on the horizon.
“ Every kid needs a place to go to be a kid” – the Wonder Years
Growing up, we had a Harper’s Woods of our own, though it didn’t have a name. We just called it The Woods. It was across the road from our little neighborhood, a street of about 45 homes, built in the mid-sixties. I’m not a good judge of size, but I’d guestimate it was 9-10 acres. Within those boundaries were trails walked, and for the fortunate few, ridden by mini-bikes; forts built by trial and error; games played; and tons of imagination swirling around.
I never saw a parent enter our little territory. If someone was late coming home or needed by mom, a sibling was sent it to fetch the required kid.
“There’s something in those woods you can’t see with your eyes. You have to look with your heart. It’s my childhood.” – The Wonder Years
Our other natural playground was the large drainage ditch than ran behind the houses. There my brothers shot moccasins and brought them home to be skinned. I waded in, catching minnows and little crawdads, always on alert for snakes, though. At the end of our street, the ditch emptied in a little creek. Across that creek was a magical zone I discovered when I was just on the brink of being a teenager. In it was a patch of bamboo and a huge fallen tree that went across the creek. I crossed the tree, albeit on hands and knees, and wondered at the beauty of it all that I had no words for. Years later, when I read Bridge to Terabithia, it all came back to me. It was exactly what I pictured when I read about Leslie and Jesse.
Christmas, circa 1987
By the time I was a teenager, our woods were gone, replaced by more houses that expanded our neighborhood. I babysat a lot of kids in my neighborhood, and now I see that in just a few short years, the freedom to roam that I enjoyed was cut short for those kids who came after me.
And now this – I discovered this song by Twenty One Pilots a few years ago and it fits right in here I think. Makes me think of my grandkids and wish they had a place to play like I did.