Well, I’d have to first choose one neighbourhood in particular, as we moved around a fair bit growing up. But the one place that stands out, the one I keep coming back to, which feels special and precious is the neighbourhood around McNaughton and Bell in Sudbury. That was what community felt like, that was what we are all meant to have. We knew our neighbours. The neighbourhood itself was filled with families and children for a 4-block radius. We had secret passages and routes, a whole network of short-cuts to get us from one backyard to the next with mild gymnastic ability and ease.
It never seemed like there were parents around, just us kids exploring, being adventurous, playing outdoors and inventing games. Sometimes it was boys against girls. Other times it was older kids against younger kids. I learned about street hockey and Double-Dutch and how to walk on my hands. We cared for each other and about each other – if your parents weren’t home, then you went next door or across the road, no questions asked, no doorbells, no asking your parents if you could stay for dinner, you were just served along with whoever else was at the table and then you cleared your plate and helped with dishes, as if it was your home. The weather was our leader, mother nature dictated how we’d spend our days, and we all met up often for neighbourhood gatherings where parents would socialize and kids would stay out of sight, out of mind in the hopes that we could keep playing even after dark.