Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for.....

First day of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Here we go.

A is for.....Appleton.

Appleton, Wisconsin, is one of the places I lived growing up. We moved to Appleton from Port Washington, Wisconsin, when I was in 4th grade. I still remember the day my parents called me into their room to give me the news. Just that morning my best friend at the time, Tommy Kent, had gleefully told me that his parents had bought one of the lots right behind us. My best friend was moving a stone's throw away, and I was moving to some place called Appleton.

I was devastated.

Luckily, you bounce back quickly when you're 10. There were lots of kids my age in our new neighborhood, and it didn't take long to find running mates. We had a lot of freedom in those days. Appleton was a small town, the kind of place where parents expected their kids to play outside all day. It was the kind of place where all a kid needed was a bike.

We rode to the fields that bordered the neighborhood to play Dukes of Hazard. We rode to the softball fields to collect aluminum cans. We rode to Open Pantry to play BurgerTime and Dig Dug. We rode to the tennis courts at Einstein Junior High or the public swimming pool at Herb Park.

When winter came the bikes went into hibernation, but there was still plenty to do. We built snow forts and waged epic snowball fights. We laced up our skates and spent hours on frozen ponds and flooded backyards. We took the bus downtown and played basketball all day at the Y.

Life uprooted my family again when I was 16, shifting us 30 miles north to Green Bay. Even though my time in Appleton was relatively short, it remains a big part of who I am. The memories of my Appleton days are always with me.


  1. Change is good, although when you're young it can feel traumatic. My daughter would move on a dime, but my son would never forgive us!
    Those were the days, indeed, though kids are rarely out "just playing" anymore. Everything is so organized, and schedules so packed that there's little time for creative play or pick-up games. I remember biking around the whole city, playing street hockey, shooting hoops, playing soccer and kick-the-can w/my brothers. Hard for kids to find that time for simple play these days.

  2. Sometimes change is a good thing when you are young.

  3. That first paragraph sounds like the set-up for a middle-grade novel. Just when you thought your best friend was going to move in next door -- whammo, you get uprooted.

    Good memories are priceless.

  4. I played Dukes of Hazzard too. It's how I perfected my hillbilly impersonation. Thanks for jostling my memories.

  5. Great post to read before the weekend; now I want to go outside and build forts and bike all over!

    Also - I agree with LG Smith's comment about that being a good setup for a book!

  6. What a wonderful, melancholic post.

    When I read this, I thought: this place needs to get a book! Glad to see others agree!

    Gretings from a fellow A to Z blogger

  7. Memories like that are priceless! I like the way you told the story, I almost felt I was running there with you :) Thanks for visiting :)

  8. Great post for the letter "A" and what a special time in your childhood. Those times are always the best, that dizzying freedom all under a blanket of security. Those were the days.

  9. I'm having flashbacks to 1985, riding bigwheels with by best friend Brian, pretending to be Ghostbusters. It was the best of times...And then we had to move because my stupid sister was was the worst of times.

  10. I had a childhood like that some of the time too... Just running around outside all day. I really feel for my kids that they can't do that. If I even let them run around in the field next door to our house, I can see people walking by wondering who the hell let those kids out on their own.

    It's sad how the world has changed.

  11. My dad is from the Weyauwega/Waupaca area and my folks live there now in their retirement. I visit every summer and we make many trips to Appleton for shopping. My uncle also lived in Appleton and worked for KC aviation years ago.

    Became aware of your blog through Julie Flanders(her blog is "What Else is Possible"). It's nice to meet a fellow Packer fan!!!